Climate Impacts in Northern Arizona

Climate change is already causing adverse effects on Southwestern communities’ health and economies due to increases in temperature, drought, and wildfirei. The changing climate is linked to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the atmosphere, which insulate the planet and cause it to warm. It has been shown that reducing these heat-trapping gas emissions will reduce the speed at which the planet is warming, thus mitigating the expected threats to communities and the environment.

There is support for climate change action in Arizona: According to a studyii conducted by the University of Arizona and Stanford University, 70 percent of Arizona residents believe that the U.S. and Arizona governments should take action on climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

To lead the way in Arizona, the City of Flagstaff is developing a community-driven Climate Action and Adaptation Plan to set decreased emission goals and increase the resilience in our community to climate change impacts.

  1. Climate Impacts Already Happening
  2. Climate Change Causes
  3. Climate Projections

Extreme Weather in Flagstaff

Flagstaff is already experiencing the impacts of climate change like extreme weather. These events are expected to increase, with higher intensity. This story map explores the drought, fire, flood, heat and wind events Flagstaff has experienced in its recent past.

Story Map 

Observed Regional Changes

Over the past few decades, the land where the Navajo Nation resides has become much hotter and drier. Streams that flowed in the nineteen eighties are now dry washes that never, or rarely flow. These hotter temperatures increase evaporation, making the soil drier and unsuitable for most plants. As a result, sand dunes are growing. to learn more about the impacts of climate change on Navajo Nation watch this video produced by the U.S. Geological Society.

Record of Change


Do you have questions about climate change, the science behind it, and what to do about it? The National Climate Assessment has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help answer your questions.

References and further reading

[i] Garfin, G., G. Franco, H. Blanco, A. Comrie, P. Gonzalez, T. Piechota, R. Smyth, and R. Waskom, 2014: Ch. 20: Southwest. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment, J. M. Melillo, Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and G. W. Yohe, Eds., U.S. Global Change Research Program, 462-486. doi:10.7930/J08G8HMN. http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/regions/southwest

[ii] Liverman, D., Garfin, G.M., Doster, S., Overpeck, J.T., Machlis, G. (2015). Arizona’s views on climate change-Executive summary. Institute of the Environment. http://www.environment.arizona.edu/climate-survey