Drought, heat kill Arizona 'sky islands'

Mar 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: When the isthmus is an island: Madison's hottest, and coldest, spots

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Few US states preparing for climate change, study says

Oct 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 ...

In-depth study examines air quality in metro Phoenix

Aug 07, 2014

Air can be considered a great equalizer – we all have to breathe it. Arizona State University faculty member Tom Cahill is interested in adding to our knowledge base of air quality in metropolitan Phoenix, ...

Recommended for you

Stopping the leaks

12 hours ago

When a big old cast-iron water main blows, it certainly makes for a spectacular media event.

Alpine lifelines on the brink

13 hours ago

Only one in ten Alpine rivers are healthy enough to maintain water supply and to cope with climate impacts according to a report by WWF. The publication is the first-ever comprehensive study on the condition ...

User comments : 0