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Local scientists expand ways to investigate climate change

Reported by: Dana Wagner
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Updated: 5/01 9:05 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- The climate in southern Nevada is being measured in ways it has never been measured before. Scientists say they hope to use the information to benefit us.

Dr. Dale Devitt treks past the Creosote bushes, through one of the hottest, driest spots on earth -- the Mojave Desert -- looking for clues into how a changing climate impacts the place where we live.

The Desert National Wildlife Range is not far from the Las Vegas Strip, about a 40-minute drive northwest of town.

Our destination: this climate station located near the base of the Sheep Mountain Range.

This station runs off solar power and it measures many things: temperature, wind speed, precipitation, plant growth, soil moisture and more.

This station has been gathering data for about three years, but scientists hope it's around for many years to come, gathering changes in our climate.

There's been much done on climate change on a global scale, but this is a first of its kind experiment measuring changes precisely where we live.

UNLV, UNR and the Desert Research Institute are all involved in a five-year, multimillion-dollar federally funded study.

They hope to find out how native plants will adjust to climate changes and from that, conclusions could be made how people will adjust to the changing conditions.

To help visualize the data, UNLV has built a new laboratory on campus.

With a wall full of monitors and 3-D screens, the Geovisualization Lab will help tell the story of climate change in the Mojave Desert.

One thing you can see in here, the impacts of a growing city on rising temperatures.

The past decade was the hottest decade on record in the Las Vegas valley.

As concrete and asphalt replace desert, temperatures go up in something that's called the urban heat island effect.

Haroon Stephen says the urban heat island effect accounts for some of the rise in local temperatures over the past decade, but not all, saying climate change is also playing a role.

UNLV needs more money to keep the climate stations running. It is applying for more grants from the federal government.


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