Southwest Climate Research and Education: Investigating the North American Monsoon in Arizona and Teaching Climate Science on the Tohono O'odham Nation
AdvisorComrie, Andrew C.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWestern science and Indigenous knowledge understand Southwest climate and the North American monsoon from different cultural perspectives. However, scant literature exists relating to climate and Indigenous communities in the Southwest. On the contrary, substantial climate research has occurred with Arctic Indigenous communities; however, a general aspiration among communities is Indigenous-led climate research and education. This requires more Native scientists and culturally responsive climate science curricula. Southwest Indigenous communities are primed to do this. This dissertation examines 1) the current scientific understanding of the North American monsoon, 2) the state of climate research in Indigenous communities, and 3) the development of culturally responsive climate science curricula. The first paper synthesizes the current scientific understanding of the monsoon and its interannual variability. Pacific Ocean-based teleconnections, such as ENSO-PDO combined indices do add skill in early-season monsoon forecasting. However, general circulation models continue to deal with computational-spatial resolution limitations challenging their application in future climate change projections of the monsoon. The second paper focuses on climate-related research in Indigenous communities in the Arctic and the Southwest to highlight lessons-learned. Climate researchers working with Native communities must exercise cultural considerations for Indigenous relationships with the climate and Indigenous protocols for acquiring and disseminating knowledge. Furthermore, increasing the number of Native students in science and Native scientists are ways to improve climate-related research in Indigenous communities. The third paper is a participatory action research approach to develop a culturally responsive climate science curriculum for Tohono O'odham high school and college students. This project worked with a community advisory board as well as Tohono O'odham Community College instructors and student interns. Pre-assessment surveys were given to community members learn of the most relevant weather and climate topics. The curriculum was developed incorporating local, culturally relevant topics. Climate workshops were offered in the communities using activities developed for the curriculum. Workshop evaluations were positive; however, they also addressed the need for more culturally relevant examples. The overlapping theme for these dissertation papers is cultural understanding for climate research and education in Indigenous communities toward a means for Indigenous-led climate research/education within their own communities.
Degree ProgramGraduate College