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USDA 'climate hub' to be set up at Jornada Experimental Range

USDA 'climate hub' to be set up at Jornada Experimental Range
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 5:39pm

The Las Cruces area is one of seven locations selected for a first of its kind 'climate hub' by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The Southwestern hub will be at the Jornada Experimental Range about 45 minutes north of Las Cruces where research will study climate change and the effects on the land.

"We have collected the data for a long period of time and we're quite interested in all these things going on around us," said Research Hydrologist Al Rango.

Rango studies how snowpack builds up in the during the cold season and melts as temperatures warm up.

He also looks at how the soil holds moisture and does a lot of his work at the Jornada.

"Climate change studies have shown we're going to have more extreme events and that means more droughts but also it means more flooding," Rango said.

He added the goal of his research and that of others is to learn about climate change and then eventually recommend to farmers, ranchers and forrest landowners what they can do to help alleviate those changes.

The new 'climate hub' will likely bring in more researchers to share data that has been gathered at the range for more than 100 years.

The Jornada hub will focus on six states in the Southwest with desert climates where potentially much of the work could be on drought research.

"The water supply is being reduced and at the same time the water demand has gone up," Rango said.

Rango said since flooding events could likely increase in the future, they want to learn how to capture that water and use it to help alleviate drought conditions elsewhere.

He added with the range currently hosting numerous climate-related agencies the new designation will only help with research.

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