Will West Texas become a climate change hotspot in the United States?
Regional modeling of how long-term global warming patterns might emerge in the US suggests that future climates in West Texas could be very different than those of the past. Climate researchers used unique state-of-the art high resolution nested climate simulation models to explore the importance of fine scale processes in determining climate change hotspots in the continental United States and Mexico.
The occurrence of climate change hotspots in the US was generally persistent in the southwestern US, including west Texas. Northern Mexico was also a region of persistent, intense climate changes. Interestingly the observed pattern of responsiveness was largely consistent between low and high end emissions scenarios and throughout the 21st century. The persistence of the hotspot patterns observed in these regional climate modeling experiments suggest that the broad patterns of responsiveness observed may be robust to climate system variability. Peak climate changes in these modeling studies were driven primarily by changes in interannual variability, particularly of precipitation.
The focus of this research was the physical response of the climate system and therefore it did not take account of the vulnerabilities of ecosystems or human activities that might be impacted by the projected climate changes.
Source: Diffenbaugh, N.S., Giorgi, F., & Pal, J.S. (2008) Climate change hotspots in the United States. Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L16709-L16709.