A collaboration between the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and New Mexico's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NM EPSCoR) has led to the exhibit titled, Degrees of Change: New Mexico's Climate Forecast. The exhibit, co-curated by NMMNHS Chief Scientist, Spencer Lucas and UNM Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor, David Gutzler, opens at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science on May 20.
Scientists know a great deal about what the Earth's climate was like in the past. For example, you can examine the growth rings of a tree and determine the abundance, or lack of, water that nourished it. Or, look at ice core samples and find ash from the eruption of an ancient volcano. But, what sort of climate can we expect in the future, and how do we know?
The exhibit is an exploration of these questions and many more. With a focus on New Mexico and the Southwest, this exhibit will reveal current and predicted impacts of climate change on humans, landscapes, and ecosystems, as well as take you back in time to discover the past climates of New Mexico and around the world.
"Unlike meteorology, which is focused just on the atmosphere, climate science requires that we consider the linkages between the atmosphere, oceans and other water bodies, the land surface, snow and ice, and the biosphere, all driven by energy input from the sun," said Gutzler. "Trying to figure out how these different parts of the Earth system affect each other is a huge challenge that I find endlessly fascinating."
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a globe called the "Magic Planet," which projects video images onto a sphere to show the entire global climate system evolving. In the exhibit you will also learn about scientists who are investigating different components of the climate system in New Mexico: snowpack variability, streamflows, wildfires, and forest ecology.
Said Gutzler, "Trying to fit all these pieces together in a coherent way to explain how the whole system works (and might change with time) is marvelous fun, something like fitting jigsaw puzzle pieces together."
NMMNHS Chief Scientist, Dr. Lucas, brings the perspective from studying the 500 million years, or so, of fossil and rock record of New Mexico and what it tells us about ancient climate changes in the state. According to Lucas, "Climate has changed substantially in New Mexico over many millions of years, and more changes are to come."
Through hands-on exploration, computer modeling and interactives, as well as interviews with long-time New Mexico residents, you will discover what the science of climate change is all about, as well as the latest predictions for our future.
Saturday, May 21
Degrees of Change Climate Science Expo, 1 - 3 p.m.
Celebrate climate science, along with guest presenters from NM EPSCoR, Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, the Nature Conservancy, the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, and Climate Masters. Free with museum admission.
New Mexico's Climate Forecast with Dave Gutzler, 3 - 4 p.m.
Gutzler is a climatology and meteorology expert and professor at UNM's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Hear the latest research on climate science in this fun and informative discussion. Free with museum admission.