Desert Climate Regionalization for Joshua Tree National Park and Surrounding Areas Using New Climate Network Observations

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A new amalgamation of weather stations in and around Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California has allowed for objective climate analysis regionalization at a much finer scale than past studies. First, it sets a baseline for many regions within the park’s boundaries that were not subject to direct observations. Second, these new observations are key to understanding shifting microclimate regimes in a desert ecosystem prone to the effects of climate change. Principal component analysis was used to regionalize the climate network based on monthly temperature and precipitation climate observations and standardized anomalies. Both the observation values and standardized climate anomalies identified regional boundaries. In general, these boundaries align with tradi-tional ideas and past studies of the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts based on elevation (specifically the 1000-m contour) for the National Park Service. Standardized anomaly values identified a boundary based on seasonal precipitation, whereas observation values identified a boundary based on elevation. The boundary line within the park is similar for both data approaches, with the boundary running along the higher western one-third of the park. Conversely, the two methods differ significantly in the Coachella Valley, where low elevations and low precipitation meet winter-dominated seasonal precipitation. This study highlights the importance and opportunity of field observations to cre-ate climatological and ecological regionalization, and it also constructs a baseline to monitor and manage shifting desert regions in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Climate classification/regimes
  • Climatology
  • Complex terrain
  • Principal components analysis
  • Surface observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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