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Bulletin 164 — Climate Change in New Mexico Over the Next 50 Years: Impacts on Water Resources


Editors & Contributing Authors:
Nelia W. Dunbar, David S. Gutzler, Kristin S. Pearthree, Fred M. Phillips, and Paul W. Bauer

Contributing Authors:
Craig D. Allen, David DuBois, Michael D. Harvey, J. Phillip King, Leslie D. McFadden, Bruce M. Thomson, and Anne C. Tillery

2022, 218 pages

[see author details]

Earth is warming in response to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Global climate models project an average temperature increase across New Mexico of 5° to 7° F over the next 50 years. Other primary impacts are decreased water supply (partly driven by thinner snowpacks and earlier spring melting), lower soil moisture levels, increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, and increased competition and demand for scarce water resources. Snowpack and associated runoff are projected to decline substantially over the next 50 years, generating diminished headwater streamflow. Flow in the state's major rivers is projected to decline by 16% to 28%, and the frequency of extreme precipitation events, coupled with fire-driven disruption of vegetation in watersheds, is projected to at least double river sediment. The impacts of climate change on New Mexico's water resources are overwhelmingly negative.

The bulletin, which is the scientific foundation upon which New Mexico's 50-Year Water Planis based, represents a compilation, assessment and integration of existing peer-reviewed published research, technical reports and datasets relevant to the broad topic of changes to New Mexico climate over the next 50 years, and resultant impact on water resources. This project, also known as the "Leap Ahead" analysis, also identifies significant data and modeling gaps and uncertainties, and suggests research directions to strengthen our understanding of climate and water resource changes.

This publication won the 2023 John C. Frye Memorial Award from the Geological Society of America (GSA) and the Association of American State Geologists (AASG). The Frye award is given annually to the best paper on environmental geology published either by GSA or by a state geological survey. Winning papers identify a geologically based environmental issue, provide sound and substantive information about the problem, and present information that is directly usable by geologists, professionals such as land-use planners and engineers, and informed laypersons.

Watch:"New Mexico's 50 Year Water Plan: A Solid Foundation" — a short video featuring authors discussing the book.

There are two PDF versions of this book available for free download. The "FullResolution" version is best for printing and the "web" version is a smaller file suitable for on-screen viewing. Only consider purchasing this book on CD-ROM if you are unable to download the free PDFs below.

Suggested citation:

  1. Dunbar, N.W., Gutzler, D.S., Pearthree, K.S., Phillips, F.M., Bauer, P.W., Allen, C.D., DuBois, D., Harvey, M.D., King, J.P., McFadden, L.D., Thomson, B.M., and Tillery, A.C., 2022, Climate change in New Mexico over the next 50 years: Impacts on water resources: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Bulletin 164, 218 p.
  2. An extensive list of references for this Bulletin is also available.
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File Name Size Last Modified
B-164_FullResolution.pdf 52.32 MB 07/10/2023 02:43:24 PM
B-164_web.pdf 30.33 MB 07/10/2023 02:42:21 PM