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Inside The Southwest’s Newest Climate Change Hub

Dave Thatcher has been working at the Jornada Experimental Range ever since he graduated from NMSU about 25 years ago.

As the supervisory range technician, he is responsible for making sure all the equipment sends readings back for scientists and researchers to collect.

“Every so often, it just sends out a signal just to see if headquarters is there, to see if that link is still there.”

Today, a sensor was not working. We drove out to see what was wrong.

“The nature of electronics.”

Turns out it will probably need replacing.


“You know, something happens that a wire gets loose…or you’ll get a battery just decides to give up the ghost and not operate anymore.”

One time, lightning struck a unit and destroyed it. That was a rare event.

Some of these monitoring stations have been here almost a century. Others are more recent.

You are not going to see a lot of snow at the study area. One of the weather stations here is surrounded by a snow fence. That is because NOAA operates it and since they operate stations all across the country, they want all of them to be the same so the data will not be different.

Plus, the wooden fences keep the wind from interfering with rainfall readings…. something you will definitely see in the desert.

Jornada won a nationwide competition to become one of the next climate change hubs.

The leader of the hub, Albert Rango, is on NMSU’s campus, spearheading collecting all that information that will help farmers and ranchers.

“…help them combat the effects…as well as drought and flooding and the things that are going to happen as a result of climate change.”

Farmers in the Southwest need as much information as possible under the recent and widespread drought.

“California Nevada Utah Arizona and New Mexico…. rely on snow melt…to provide a large amount of their water supply.”

Trends in climate change may not be the only things changing. Seems like opinions are too.

“There was a time when not many people including scientists believed that climate change was happening…most recent survey shows…over 50 percent of the general public believes that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it.”