DCDC Intern Emily Allen wins Udall Scholarship

Emily AllenEmily Allen, a two-time intern in DCDC’s Internship for Science-Practice Integration (ISPI) program, has won the Udall Scholarship for commitment to the environment.

Emily has aspirations of following the example of famed U.S. Congressman Morris K. Udall.

Throughout his decades-long career of representing Arizona, Udall – a lawyer and environmentalist- worked on legislation to expand the national park system, protect the environment and effectively manage natural resources. He also was a driving force for legislation, called the Central Arizona Project (CAP), which brought Colorado River water to the parched Arizona desert.

While Udall supported the project, which routed river water through Arizona and into Phoenix and Tucson, he was concerned about its environmental impact. This dilemma became a significant challenge of Udall’s work on the CAP.

Allen, a sustainability and English major and student in Barrett, The Honors College, has been named a 2013 Udall Scholar by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. She will receive a $5,000 scholarship to use toward tuition for her senior year at Arizona State University.

She was among 488 candidates nominated by 230 colleges and universities. Fifty recipients from 43 colleges and universities were chosen for this year’s scholarship. Udall Scholars are selected on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, Native American health care or tribal public policy; leadership potential; academic achievement; and record of public service.

“My career goal is to work with local governments in the state of Arizona to protect fragile water resources from the pressures of overuse and rapid urban development. I plan to accomplish this goal as an attorney with a water law specialty, either in a private firm or a local municipality,” Allen stated on her scholarship application.

“I will learn from Morris Udall’s challenge in office and defend water resources against unreasonable urban uses. I will be the additional support that city officials need to protect and property manage water resources,” she added.

Allen said she is honored and humbled to have won the scholarship.

“It is an incredible honor to have the opportunity to engage further with the Udall Foundation and to be able to learn more about environmental leadership through their network,” she said.

“I also feel humbled because so many people helped me to earn this award. My application was based on my experience with the School of Sustainability, the Barrett Honors College, and the Decision Center for a Desert City. The exceptional mentorship available to me through those three entities not only helped me to develop my credentials for the scholarship, but they also provided me with critical support in the scholarship application process,” she added.

Emily’s work in DCDC’s ISPI program has included working in 2011 at the City of Mesa with mentor Mark Holmes, P.G. on Uncovering Barriers and Motivations in Groundwater Management Collaboration and GIS-Based Delineation of Prime Groundwater Recharge Areas in the East Salt River Sub-basin and her current internship with the City of Phoenix working with mentor Doug Frost.

Allen will attend a conference of Udall Scholars August 7-11 in Tucson where they will receive their awards and meet policymakers and community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care, and governance.

Relief for a Parched Delta

By Henry Fountain on April 15, 2013 via The New York Times

CUCAPÁ EL MAYOR, Mexico — Germán Muñoz looked out at the river before him and talked about the days when dolphins swam here, 60 miles from the sea.

“The wave made noise like a train,” he said, describing the tides that would roll up the Colorado River from the Gulf of California and then a mile or so up this tributary, past his family’s land. “There would be all kinds of fish jumping, very happy. And then the dolphins would come, chasing the fish.”

That was in the 1950s, when the Colorado still flowed regularly to the gulf — as it had for tens of thousands of years, washing sand and silt down from the Rocky Mountains to form a vast and fertile delta. In the last half-century, thanks to dams that throttled the Colorado and diverted its water to fuel the rise of the American West, the river has effectively ended at the Mexican border. The Colorado delta, once a lush network of freshwater and marine wetlands and meandering river channels and a haven for fish, migrating birds and other wildlife, is largely a parched wasteland.

Mr. Muñoz last saw a dolphin as a teenager in 1963, the year the last of the big Colorado dams, the Glen Canyon, began impounding water 700 miles upstream. “The river doesn’t come here anymore,” he said.

But after decades of dismay in Mexico over the state of the delta, there is reason for some optimism. An amendment to a seven-decades-old treaty between the United States and Mexico, called Minute 319, will send water down the river once again and support efforts to restore native habitat and attract local and migratory wildlife.

Continue reading at The New York Times.

April 23 Water/Climate Briefing

The Future of Arizona’s Forests: Anticipating the effects of climate change and fire on water sustainability

Arizona’s forests are not only mountain playgrounds for recreation and tourism but also sustain critical ecosystem functions such as water storage, filtration, and release for downstream uses.

In the face of climate change, forest ecosystems are being stressed from higher temperatures and lower precipitation, making them more vulnerable to insect infestations and more frequent and intense wildfires.

The impacts of climate and landscape changes and wildfire include increased erosion, sedimentation, and warmer water temperatures, which in turn affect municipal water supplies and riparian habitats.

Please join us as we explore the critical research and policy priorities regarding the interaction between Arizona’s climate, forests, and water.


Erik Nielsen
Assistant ProfessorWCB Apr23 2013 School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability
Northern Arizona University

Thomas Sisk
Olajos-Goslow Professor of Environmental Science and Policy
Northern Arizona University

Abe Springer
Professor of Geology
Northern Arizona University

Dave White
Moderator and Co-Director
Decision Center for a Desert City
Arizona State University


Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Lunch will be served. Please RSVP to: Sarah.Jones.2@asu.edu


Decision Center for a Desert City, 21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B, Tempe Map

Historical threshold temperatures for Phoenix (urban) and Gila Bend (desert), central Arizona, USA

Climate Research, Vol 55, No. 3
January 10, 2013


D. Ruddell [1], D. Hoffman [2], O. Ahmad [3], A. Brazel [4]


Several critically important temperature thresholds are experienced in the climate of the desert southwest USA and in central Arizona. These thresholds present significant and increasing challenges to social systems. Utilizing daily surface air temperature records from Phoenix and Gila Bend regional weather stations from 1900−2007, we examined 3 temperature thresholds: (1) frost days (minimum temperature < 0°C); (2) misery days (maximum temperature ≥43.3°C); and (3) local characteristics of heat waves. We investigated historic climate patterns in addition to considering the human implications associated with these changes. Analyses also integrated multidecadal modes of the El Niño−Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Key findings of this study were: (1) uneven warming trends among temperature thresholds between the Phoenix (pronounced warming) and Gila Bend (modest warming) weather stations; (2) disjointed associations between ENSO and PDO with frost and misery days, signaling anthropogenic interference between temperature thresholds and historic atmospheric processes; (3) variable effects of ENSO and PDO modulations on annual frost and misery days; (4) evidence of urbanization suppressing local effects of global climate systems (i.e. ENSO, PDO); and (5) potentially significant and widespread adverse impacts on many local environmental, economic, and social systems as a result of changes in threshold temperatures.

Key Words

Temperature thresholds, Urban heat island, Phoenix, Gila Bend, Coupled natural-human systems

[1] Spatial Sciences Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089-0374, USA
[2] School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1041, USA

[3] School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-5502, USA

[4] School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-5302, USA