Drought, heat kill Arizona 'sky islands'

March 28, 2007

Arizona's "sky islands," mountainside oases that provide a cool lush retreat from the desert, are falling victim to higher temperatures and a long drought.

Debbie Fagan told The New York Times that she settled in Summerhaven near Tucson 25 years ago after a country-wide search for the perfect place.

"Nature is confused," Fagan said. "We used to have four seasons. Now we have two. I love this place dearly, and this is very hard for me to watch."

In 2003 and 2004, wildfires devastated thousands of acres. The trees were first weakened by high temperatures, and then hit by insects with fire finishing the job.

Scientists say that the devastation of the "sky islands" suggests that the combination of record warmth and drought is not just a normal climate swing.

"A lot of people think climate change and the ecological repercussions are 50 years away," said Thomas Swetnam, head of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "But it's happening now in the West. The data is telling us that we are in the middle of one of the first big indicators of climate change impacts in the continental United States."

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Study ranks six American cities on preparation for climate change

Related Stories

Few US states preparing for climate change, study says

October 10, 2014

Fewer than half of American states are working to protect themselves from climate change, despite more detailed warnings from scientists that communities are already being damaged, according to a new online clearinghouse ...

Report calls for coordinated information on climate change

July 23, 2010

A comprehensive national response to climate change should be informed by reliable data coordinated through climate services and a greenhouse gas monitoring and management system to provide timely information tailored to ...

Recommended for you

Revealing glacier flow with animated satellite images

November 26, 2015

Frank Paul, a glaciologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, has created animations from satellite images of the Karakoram mountain range in Asia to show how its glaciers flow and change. The images of four different ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.