Habitat Profiling in Flagstaff, Arizona: Using Observational and Climatological Data to Create High-Resolution Microclimate Products for the Public

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Daniel E. Stewart, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ; and A. A. Taylor and S. Lamb

The Flagstaff National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office and The Arboretum at Flagstaff are taking part in a joint project to classify various microclimates around the Flagstaff area and deliver this information to the public. This project will provide textual and visual climatological, meteorological, and land surface information to the public for purposes such as horticulture and construction planning. Temperature, precipitation, dewpoint, relative humidity, and wind data have been collected from over 500 locations, including public and private weather observation stations and observations recorded in situ, all within the boundaries designated by the Flagstaff Metropolitan Planning Organization (FMPO). This 32 by 43 km area incorporates a range of environments from pinyon-juniper woodland (1,800 m) to alpine tundra (3,800 m), and encompasses the city of Flagstaff and the communities of Bellemont, Doney Park, Fort Valley, Kachina Village, Mountainaire, and Winona. As microclimate classification has not been done in this area on such a fine scale before, the collected data could also form the basis for future climate research.

The collected data were then analyzed through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software and combined into layered maps. The data were further analyzed to determine the average times and extremes for the final and first frosts (below 0 C) and freezes (below -2 C) of spring and fall, as well as the average onset and ending dates of the North American Monsoon. This information was combined with soil and vegetation data to create further resources for the public to identify their local microclimate. An ongoing additional initiative, included to increase weather awareness and participation, encourages the public to set up personal weather observation stations to contribute meteorological data.