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Lightning during a monsoon storm in southern Arizona, Saguaro National Park.

If recent years are any indication, the Southwest is already experiencing the effects of climate change, with record heat waves, larger and catastrophic wildfires, and a monsoon that is basically nonexistent one year, then produces record rainfall and severe weather the next. Read more»

From left, Bridget Barker, an associate professor in the department of biological sciences at Northern Arizona University, Marieke Ramsey, a graduate student at NAU, and Anita Antoninka, an assistant research professor in the school of forestry at NAU, review biocrust soil experiments in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on Aug. 6, 2021.

Scientists are working to understand Valley fever - a deadly fungus with spores about 20 times smaller than the width of a human hair - that can bring on coughing, fever, night sweats and joint pain, and in more severe cases, spread beyond the lungs to the skin, brain and other organs. Read more»

Arizona has recorded more than 6,800 cases of Valley fever so far this year, according to July data from the Arizona Department of Health Services - and cases have steadily climbed every year since 2016 - but one way to protect yourself is by wearing your mask. Read more»

Three wooden crosses mark the location where the remains of a family were found near Arivaca on April 10, 2021.

Bodies of 227 undocumented border crossers were found in the Arizona desert in 2020, and absent meaningful efforts to address the factors that drive people to risk their lives crossing miles of unforgiving desert, the number will continue to grow. Read more»

The Tohono O'odham Nation is far ahead of the U.S. and Arizona on vaccinations, having vaccinated 6,376 of the roughly 10,000 reservation residents. The tribe’s health services arm announced this week that all O’odham adults are eligible and can get vaccines by dropping in at health clinics — no reservations required.

Although the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona has been ravaged by COVID-19 — at one point serving as the world epicenter of infections — the Tohono O’odham Nation has not been hit as hard. Thanks to income from four casinos, including two near Tucson’s million residents and one in the Phoenix Valley surrounded by more than 4 million people, the tribe offers health care to all members. There are four clinics spread across the nation’s 11 districts. Read more»

There’s a giant wood slab from a Sequoia tree in the lobby of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Researchers at the lab are studying tree rings to better understand how climate change could impact the tropics.

Measuring tree rings shows climate change affects weather patterns that are driving tropics and deserts north. Read more»

Daniel Powell, a postdoctoral fellow in immunobiology, works on a vaccine for Valley fever in the Valley Fever Center for Excellence research lab in Tucson.

Researchers at the University of Arizona say they’ve made progress in developing a vaccine that could protect dogs from Valley fever, a potentially deadly respiratory disease common in the Southwest. Read more»

Empty water bottles found in the desert in an area traveled by illegal immigrants (file photo).

In separate incidents over the weekend, Border Patrol agents found four dead men in the desert. A pregnant woman was located near Sells, sitting near her dead husband's body, while bodies were also found near Lukeville and Queens Well. Read more»

Environmental groups claim that bald eagles in the Sonoran Desert, like the juvenile bird shown here, are a distinct subspecies and should be protected as an endangered speces, even though the birds were removed from that list several years ago.

For the third time in six years, two environmental groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to get endangered species protection for the Sonoran Desert population of the bald eagle. Read more»

Arizona Sonora Desert

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service have completed a study identifying plant species near Tucson that are being affected by climate change. While some trees and shrubs show declines, cacti increase with the heat. Read more»

A volunteer helps to remove Buffelgrass around Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National park where the Fifth Annual Buffelgrass Beatback will happen Saturday.

Hundreds of volunteers are expected to gather at Saguaro National Park and sites around Tucson for the Fifth Annual Buffelgrass Beatback on Saturday. Read more»

Mt. Lemmon

In the Southwest, we are keenly aware that our livelihoods depend on how we take care of the fragile environment around us. That's why I'm concerned with recently proposed federal regulations that guide how the U.S. Forest Service will manage some 11 million acres of national forest lands in Arizona. Read more»