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Impacts of Land Degradation on Historical Temperature Records from the Sonoran Desert


Previous research revealed that severe overgrazing and resultant land degradation in the semiarid areas of northern Mexico created significantly higher temperatures in the border area. In this investigation, the temperature and precipitation records from ten ‘homogeneous’ stations are identified in the arid and hyperarid areas of northwest Sonora and are compared with the records from ten stations in southwestern Arizona. Our data show that the Mexican stations are again consistently warmer than the Arizona stations when statistical controls are applied to correct for the linear or non-linear effects of latitude and/or elevation. The stations in Sonora warm at a statistically significantly faster pace than the stations in Arizona during the study period. Furthermore, and consistent with other dryland areas undergoing land degradation, the stations in Sonora reveal a significant increase in the diurnal temperature range during the summer season. Local precipitation reduces the temperature differential between nations on the time scale of days, but enhances the differential on the time scale of months and seasons. Among other findings, the results show how land degradation in dryland areas appears to influence local historical temperature records.

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Balling, R.C., Klopatek, J.M., Hildebrandt, M.L. et al. Impacts of Land Degradation on Historical Temperature Records from the Sonoran Desert. Climatic Change 40, 669–681 (1998).

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  • Precipitation
  • Summer Season
  • Land Degradation
  • Temperature Record
  • Historical Temperature