National Park Service

Sonoran Desert I&M Network (SODN)


Climate graphic

Monitoring Briefs

Protocol Summary

Interactive Climate Data



Climate is a major driver of ecosystem processes at global and local scales. To accurately interpret vital signs data, the SODN will need to account for variability in primary climatic factors. Because the influence of aspect and topography in the Sonoran Desert and Apache Highlands ecoregions results in high spatial variability in climate parameters, especially precipitation, watershed-scale information on precipitation and temperature is critical for ecological monitoring and park management.

Parks Monitored

All 11 Sonoran Desert Network parks.

Monitoring Objectives

  1. Determine biannual (warm season vs. cool season) status and departures from 30-year normals in monthly total precipitation, mean air temperature, and reconnaissance drought index on a park-by park basis.
  2. Identify the occurrence of extreme stochastic events (low temperatures and exceptional rainfall) by season (warm vs. cool).
  3. Report this information in biannual resource briefs, and evaluate the data relative to other vital signs in a covariate and data-exploration context.

Potential Measures

Air temperature, precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, reconnaissance drought index.

Management Applications

Climate information is invaluable for park resource management activities. For example, accounting for watershed-scale climate patterns can guide fire management and habitat protection activities; suggest the likelihood of exotic plant invasion, the availability of surface water, and the potential occurrence of plant die-offs and recruitment events; and indicate the potential success of disturbed lands restoration actions.

Protocol Development Status

This protocol is currently being developed in conjunction with the Chihuahuan and Southern Plains networks of the National Park Service, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Desert Zone of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Status & Trends

This protocol has not been completed. Therefore, status and trend information is not available at this time.

Project Cooperators

Project Contacts

Andy Hubbard, SODN Program Manager

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Last Updated: December 03, 2014 Contact Webmaster