1.2 Water Is Life: Building Relationships, Precipitation Networks, and Promoting Citizen Science on Tribal Lands

Monday, 7 January 2019: 12:00 AM
North 224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Anthony L. Merriman, National Weather Service, Bellemont, AZ

The Four Corners region of the southwestern U.S. is home to two of the largest Native American Reservations, Navajo Nation and the Hopi Indian Reservation. The combined land area is about 30,000 square miles, which is approximately the size of South Carolina. Water plays a significant role in the daily lives of those in the Four Corners because dry subsistence farming and ranching make up a significant portion of the economy and culture. Since water scarcity is the baseline normal climate, any drought category has negative impacts to both the overall economy and lives. In-situ hydrometeorological data are sparse across the Four Corners Region. Further exacerbating the lack of data, weather radar coverage is also poor with a large data gaps extending over most of Navajo Nation. These large data gaps make it extremely difficult to assess drought conditions.

The need for more hydrometeorological observations presented a unique opportunity to meet with different community members and provide them with precipitation gages. The intent would be that precipitation data from these gages would be entered into CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow), which is a nationally recognized rainfall network. These data would then get into the hydrology models and better represent precipitation across Navajo Nation and Hopi lands.

Expanding the CoCoRaHS rainfall network across tribal lands is a long process. Building relationships with individuals with significantly different cultural backgrounds is difficult and requires a great deal of patience, understanding, and humility. With time, the goal is to continue to add more hydrometeorological observation sites in the Four Corners to better monitor precipitation and build drought resilience and mitigation within these communities.

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