The Rise of Wildfires in the Desert Southwest

Global climate change has impacted our planet in a variety of ways. One of these impacts has been the increased intensity and frequency of wildfires, which we have experienced in America’s Southwest.

New Mexico and Arizona are states that are particularly vulnerable to the occurrence of fire, for a variety of reasons. For starters, the Southwest region has been home to prolonged drought for several years. The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) monitors the dryness or wetness of an area, where the Southwestern region receives the lowest score (or, in other words, is in extreme drought).



above: A chart depicting the PDSI of the United States


The rise of global temperature has altered the timing of snowmelt. In cases where snowpack has melted relatively early, fires have been larger, and more extreme. This is because moisture from the snow is virtually lost by the time summer begins.

The Southwest region’s average temperature has increased by 2-5 degrees within the past century ( By 2050, trees will be under more stress than ever before, due to lost moisture within the hot summer months. The lost moisture within organic material will directly impact bird species, who depend on moist leaves and twigs to keep their nests intact.

It is quite possible that the increased occurrence of Wildfires will eradicate and endanger species of flora and fauna that are unique to the Southwest. In fact, animals like the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel and Mexican Spotted Owl are already in critical danger. Their natural habitat is located within the forested mountain ranges of New Mexico and Arizona, which were home to 2011’s horrific summer Wildfire season. The occurrence of these fires has killed large numbers of the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel and Mexican Spotted Owl, destroying their habitat in the process.



above: a Mexican Spotted Owl


Climate change is a serious issue that has impacted our common home. If such change continues, the American Southwest will continue to suffer from destructive Wildfires. The Rise of Wildfires will prolong severe drought, destroy ecosystems, and threaten biodiversity within the Desert Southwest.




3 thoughts on “The Rise of Wildfires in the Desert Southwest

  1. I really like how you explained and defined any confusing terms and the writing is entertaining. Overall I really like this blog post and it’s really informative. Theres a really good break up the information with pictures and the pictures are great, too!

  2. The content was well selected and I especially like that you cited each bit of information as you wrote it. In addition, you had some really good pictures and you did a great job using them to break up the text; you obviously thought about how it would read after being broken up as opposed to just sliding in images in an aesthetically pleasing manner. I would be curious to find out exactly what difference 2 degrees makes in New Mexico in terms of wildfires.

  3. Your title needs to be a little more directed – SW and connection to CC. Your intro sentence however nails it! Make sure you hot link the url in the first paragraph. YOur second paragraph begins “In addition, the rise of global temperature has altered the timing of snowmelt” – in addition to what? Add more specifics about the animals that are endangered. Your last couple of sentences are too vague – you say change needs to occur but neglect to say what kind of change. This blog post errs on the side of too concise – “beef” or better yet ” Veg” it up with more facts, more evidence. You say a variety that NM and Arizona are vulnerable for a variety of reasons, but only mention two. Your inclusion of the map and explanation of the index is very good.

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