Blair Wolf is an associate professor of biology at the University of New Mexico. Research in the Wolf lab focuses on the natural history and ecophysiology of desert animals. He agreed to blog with Dr. Dolittle on the topic of birds. Here is an excerpt from their exchange.
Dr. Wolf: The most current climate research suggests that the southwestern United States is going to get quite a bit hotter and dryer in the next 80 or so years (5 – 10 °F; 3 – 6 °C). The projected decrease in rainfall when coupled to the atmospheric high-pressure areas that form over this region suggests that the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves will increase greatly. The models that Gerald Meehl and Claudia Tebaldi used to make these predictions were tuned using atmospheric data from recent heat waves in Chicago and Europe and modeled these events with high confidence. A recent paper by Noah Diffenbaugh and Moetasim Ashfaq suggests that the intensification of hot extremes in the region is accelerating much more rapidly than predicted. The record heat waves that swept the US this summer and the 113 °F (44 °C) record observed in Los Angeles recently lend credibility to these projections and suggest what many scientists fear- that warming is going to accelerate much more quickly then is currently projected.