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Desert Diary
Culture/Chihuahuan Rain Forest


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For years, scientists have warned that climate is a chaotic system—that slow changes through time will result in the whole system suddenly flipping to a new, far-different equilibrium. Climatic records frozen in the Greenland ice cap, for example, show warm climates changing within decades to those of glacial cold.

At 7 a.m. Mountain Time, the United States National Weather Service announced that it's now certain that man-induced hot-house warming has just caused such a drastic climatic change—not to another ice age, but to the steamy temperatures typical of the age of dinosaurs.

What effect will this have on the El Paso region of the Chihuahuan Desert? The preliminary news release indicates both summer and winter temperatures averaging in the 80s, humidity around 90% year-round, and up to 96 inches of precipitation spread throughout the year for our region. The Weather Service estimates that, within our lifetimes, the Franklin Mountains will be clothed in dense, tropical rainforest!

History will record that this startling announcement was made on the first day of April, sometimes known as APRIL FOOLS DAY!
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Franklin Mts., 2050

Artist's conception of the Franklin Mountains in the year 2050. View of North Franklin Peak from the west, Rio Grande Valley in the near foreground.