SALT LAKE CITY — The National Climate Assessment, released on the Friday after Thanksgiving, says the American Southwest, including Utah, is already getting hotter and drier, and the trend is likely to accelerate.
At the University of Utah, Biology Assistant Professor William Anderegg says climate change is no longer about the future.
“These are not predictions anymore. These are observations. We can already see the future playing out around us as we see more wildfires, lower snowpack, and more droughts,” Anderegg says.
Anderegg’s research includes studying the water content in trees in the Southwest. He says his observations show western trees reacting to drought by closing the pores on their leaves, making them less effective at cleaning the air. The drier forests are also far more susceptible to fast-moving and deadly wildfires.