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Southwest Climate Hub Bulletin

News and events for the Southwest Hub region

October 2019 

In May 2016, we selected Julian Reyes from a pool of highly-qualified applicants to serve as the first USDA Southwest Climate Hub fellow. During his time with the Hub, Julian honed his technical and outreach skills while completing his doctoral degree. He was perpetually willing to help colleagues, join in special projects and participate in critical initiatives. Here are a few highlights of his outstanding accomplishments as part of the SWCH team:

  • Served as lead or co-author on 11 publications submitted to peer-reviewed journals and 16 abstracts presented at scientific conferences.
  • Developed a multi-agency project involving analysis of crop insurance payments, outreach to commodity groups using these data, and tool development to make the data broadly accessible, leading to the AgRisk Viewer, a web-based platform for users to easily download, view, and analyze the crop insurance data by different causes of loss (e.g., drought, hail, wind) and crop over time and space.
  • Led a working group at the National Adaptation Forum focused on managing resources in a changing climate. An output was a peer-reviewed article addressing operational gaps and opportunities for federal coordination networks, such as the Climate Hubs, to effectively support Tribes’ agricultural and natural resource management. Julian forged important relationships leading to additional tribal climate change training.
  • Served as the primary convener for a session designed to provide a platform for scientists, practitioners, land managers, extension professionals, and community members to share how collaborative partnerships have led to more actionable and decision-relevant science at the 2017-2019 American Geophysical Union fall meetings.

Later this month Julian will start a new journey in Washington, DC as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow. The AAAS program places top scientists and engineers in both Congress and federal agencies and is hosting its 47th cohort. Julian will be in the Office of Global Change at the U.S. Department of State within their oceans, environment, and science bureau. He will provide support on three major fronts: international climate negotiations, interagency review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, and technical review of various scientific reports.

In this new chapter, Julian says “I’m very excited to really lend my voice and skills in the international climate policy arena using what I’ve learned at the local to regional scales.” On his time in southern New Mexico, Julian will miss his colleagues at the Hub and Jornada Experimental Range, and those beautiful sunsets against the Organ Mountains. Julian will continue his favorite past time - running - but he’ll trade in the Rio Grande for the Potomac River. Beyond Julian’s outstanding accomplishments over the past three years, he is a true team player and a delightful colleague. We will miss his positive attitude, honest wit, and collaborative spirit.

Julian Reyes featured on the Southern Plains Podcast

SWCH Fellow Julian Reyes recently spoke with Clay Pope on the Southern Plains Podcast about the AgRisk Viewer and how crop insurance data can be helpful in agricultural risk management. 

myRAINge Log: Precipitation Tracking Tool for Range Management

MyRAINge Log is an online tool for precipitation tracking co-developed by Mike Crimmins with ranchers and land managers in Arizona. It is “An easy-to-use tool to help you track your actual rainfall so you can better manage your land"...   Read more >>

Grass-Cast: A New, Experimental Grassland Productivity Forecast Expanding to the Southwest Region

Since May 2018, an innovative new Grassland Productivity Forecast or “Grass-Cast” has been helping producers in the Northern Great Plains reduce this economically important source of uncertainty. Grass-Cast is now expanding to the Southwest region and will soon be available to producers in New Mexico and Arizona.  Read more >>

Community Forests Climate Change Adaptation Workshop

The USDA Southwest Climate Hub is collaborating with the City of Durango Parks and Recreation Department, Colorado State University, and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science to facilitate an active, hands-on workshop to explore climate change impacts and potential adaptation actions for Durango’s community forests.  Read more >>

Investments in Native Forb Research to Promote Pollinator Health

SWCH co-director Bryce Richardson describes native forb restoration research and its importance for pollinator health.  Read more >>

Two Decades of Devastating Drought in Hawai’i

Drought has caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage in Hawaii in the past 20 years. A particularly severe event from 2007-2014 was especially damaging to ranching in the state. Learn more from

Managing Rangelands in the Face of Drought

Joel Brown, SWCH NRCS co-leader, presented “managing rangelands in the face of drought” to the Southwest Intertribal Agriculture Council annual conference (Albuquerque, NM). Dr. Brown introduced the group to several tools available through the Climate Hubs (AgRisk ViewerGrass-CastEcological Site Interpretations) in the context of making timely grazing management decisions to account for weather fluctuations. About 100 land managers and technical advisors attended the presentation. Helena Deswood, SWCH Tribal Coordinator also hosted an information table at the conference to share information about myRAINge Log and enroll tribal farmers and ranchers in the CoCoRaHS Network.

Jornada wins an award for Solar Project

The Southwest Hub is based at the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range. The Jornada was awarded a Federal Energy and Water Management Award for an 80 kW solar project that powers the Jornada ranch. The ranch is the first ARS facility to receive such an award and be a net-zero electricity facility. Read More >>   

Climate reporting for the Southwest

We are currently in an ENSO-neutral status and forecasters estimate there will be about a 75% chance of an ENSO-neutral outlook for fall 2019 and to continue into spring 2020. Read more about ENSO Tracker - September 2019, an analysis by CLIMAS (Climate Assessment for the Southwest). 

As of September 30, the one-month outlook for October shows a 33-40% chance for above-normal temperatures for New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. There will be an equal chance for precipitation for Nevada, Utah, and the Four Corners region. The southern portions of Arizona and New Mexico will have 33-40% above-normal precipitation. As of September 19, the three-month outlook (Oct-Nov-Dec 2019) shows a 40-60% chance of above-normal temperatures for the southwest and a 33% chance for above-normal precipitation for Arizona and New Mexico. These outlooks are created monthly by NOAA Climate Prediction Center and based on departures from the 1981-2010 base period. To view more short-term outlooks, please visit the NOAA's National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

1-month outlook

3-month outlook


Drought conditions remain in Arizona, New Mexico and much of Utah with widespread coverage of drought conditions of D0-D2. In Hawaiʻi, portions of the islands remain in drought conditions of D0-D3. You can view how the maps change from a week to months using the U.S. Drought Monitor Change Maps. As of October 1, portions of the Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of the Marshall Islands are in abnormally dry and severe drought conditions. For a more detailed USAPI drought summary, visit the U.S. Drought Monitor website.  

For the seasonal drought outlook (September 20 - December 31, 2019), drought will persist in Arizona, western New Mexico, southern Utah, and a small portion of Nevada. The outlook predicts drought will likely be removed in Hawaiʻi.



NRCS Employees: Seeking applicants for USDA Climate Hub Liaison detail for 2020

NRCS supports the 10 USDA Climate Hubs each year by providing three employees as “Agency Project Liaisons.” The selected employees are on detail for the calendar year, remain at their current duty station, and under NRCS supervision and funding, but work full time directly with a specific Climate Hub on a focused project that provides benefits to both NRCS and the USDA Climate Hub. This detail is open to all employees regardless of grade, but applicants should be capable of creating their own workload, functioning independently, and managing their time. More information 

Western Native Youth Food Sovereignty Summit

The Western Region Youth Summit is organized by Intertribal Agriculture Council and hosted by the Yavapai Apache Nation. The summit is open to high school and college aged youth age 13 to 22 and will be held on October 18-20, 2019, at Camp Verde, AZ.
Register here. 

Funding Opportunities

Forest Service - Landscape Scale Restoration RFA 2020, USDA FS
Estimated Total Program Funding: $3,800,000
Deadline: October 11, 2019
More information
Specialty Crop Research Initiative Pre-Applications, NIFA
Estimated Total Program Funding: $80,000,000
Deadline: October 15, 2019
More information
WaterSMART Drought Response Program: Drought Resiliency Projects for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021
Award Ceiling: $750,000
Deadline: October 16, 2019
More information
Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program, NIFA
Estimate Total Program Funding: $3,700,000
Deadline: November 1, 2019
More information
Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for Federal Fiscal Year 2019
Award Ceiling: $10,000,000
Deadline: December 3, 2019
More information
Foundational and Applied Science Program, AFRI
Range of Awards: Up to $1,000,000
Deadline: December 18, 2019
More information



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