National Park Service

Chihuahuan Desert Network (CHDN)

CHDN climate icon symbol

Climate Monitoring


Climate is a major driver of ecosystem processes at global and local scales. To accurately interpret vital signs data, the CHDN will need to account for variability in primary climatic factors. Because the influence of aspect and topography in the Chihuahuan Desert 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.

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.


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 Status

This protocol is currently being developed in conjunction with the Sonoran Desert 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 and Trends

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

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Last Updated: February 13, 2014 Contact Webmaster