New Mexico water: is there really a correlation with climate change?

Nothing symbolizes water in New Mexico like Elephant Butte lake. With a relatively wet May and June, I got to thinking both about the Butte and whether its water levels had rebounded much and I also was contemplating the supposed connection between climate change and the recent drought we experienced in New Mexico.

This is the kind of thing I think about sometimes when I’m out walking by the Rio Grande and see it so full and running as strong as it was recently.


So, I went online to find out how much Elephant Butte Lake had rebounded with the recent, relatively wet spring and early summer. The answer is available at this website, but is summed up in the chart below and the answer is that the lake has rebounded a little, but not much:

The really fascinating thing is to look back at historical Lake levels which have fluctuated dramatically over the years. As seen below, the Lake was quite full all the way from about 1980-2004. It is currently at a far lower level (18.6% full to be exact), but this is by no means a historically-low level even going back to the early 1920s.

What does this all mean? To me it seems to indicate that while droughts will happen — we live in a desert after all — using Elephant Butte Lake as a proxy for water supplies in New Mexico, it would seem that there is not a great correlation between climate change/global warming and water. I am not a scientist. If Elephant Butte Lake (which is of course managed) is not a reasonable proxy for water supplies in New Mexico, I’d be happy to know. The lake does receive water from a majority of New Mexico’s land area as seen below:

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26 Replies to “New Mexico water: is there really a correlation with climate change?”

  1. I’m not sure fluctuating water levels in Elephant Butte Lake are related to climate change and I am not a climatologist. But I trust the 99% of the experts in the field who have plenty of evidence to prove that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and is getting worse all the time.

    If some of your readers want to dispute what I have just posted, I hope they will come up with intelligent arguments instead of just repeating the same old claptrap which has been refuted countless times.

    The first rule: If you try to make a point by mentioning Al Gore, you have lost the argument.

    1. Ken, you and the other readers are welcome to debate global warming/climate change, but my post was a) meant to introduce people to an interesting source of historical information, and b) question whether global warming/climate change are significantly impacting New Mexico’s water supplies.

  2. Thanks for this, very thoughtful and welcome information. I’m not a climatologist, but I did earn a BS degree in meteorology from the U. of Utah.

  3. I for one do not believe in “manmade” climate change. I look at California as an example. They have had droughts in the past. A good part of the State is desert or semi-arid. The difference today is 40 million people and an EPA that sends half of the runoff to the Pacific Ocean. I do not think 99% of the “experts” agree. All you are saying is the debate is over without giving any proof. That truly is Claptrap.

      1. Ken,

        I’m not saying anything about climate change or global warming in this post. What I am talking about is water. Specifically water in New Mexico and to what extent the recent drought experienced in our state may or may not have been driven by human activity.

        All I’m pointing out is that if you use Elephant Butte Lake as a proxy for New Mexico’s overall water situation, I don’t see a pattern of lower levels having developed in recent years. Indeed, levels at the Butte were quite a bit lower for long periods in the past. Is it conservation, different management styles? I don’t know.

        1. Paul! You’re the one who mentioned climate change in your title. I responded to your title by saying that I’m not sure if there is a connection but climate change is something we need to pay attention to because it is real, it is caused by human activity and is getting worse. After that I only responded to another post. I’ll take partial responsibility for veering off into a discussion of climate change, but not all. Have a great day!

      2. Your correct Ken; I have been hearing progressive claptrap for so long I have learned not to waste my time even talking to them anymore. To trash the economic giant of the USA because people think they can change what the Earth does naturally is not only thoughtless but selfish. The leftists have been duped by the likes of the multi-millionaire Al Gore that the socialist agenda can be reinvigorated by scaring the ignorant masses into supporting anti-capitalist policies. They dumb down the electorate and then, like all tyrants before, lie until the uninformed, emotional lackeys support them to insure their continued power. Sorry you bought the snake oil.

        1. So now NASA is promulgated Progressive claptrap? Did you read the links?

          And I suppose the US military is also promulgating progressive claptrap because they are preparing for the effect of global climate change.

        2. Hey Paul, you win, you were the first to mention Al Gore. Anthropogenic Global Climate Change is bigger than Al Gore. You need to get your climatology from someone instead of Rush Limbaugh>

          1. I do not even listen to Rush much any more. He is not conservative enough. I would recommend Dr.Michael Savage. There has been no warming for 18 years. NASA needs funding so will not even admit there are discrepancies in their info. The military is just following orders from obama. He foolishly thinks manmade climate change will effect military operations. Weather does; not climate per se. I get my info from many sources. I do not think the last 100 years of human society can change the climate and no one has proven it has because that is impossible. All it is is a socialist agenda.

      3. NASA has become part of the crony corruption in our government. It’s no longer about science but grant monies. As the saying goes the fish rots from the head down. The scientists on the working levels are just captive workers and if they don’t support department narratives they either get pigeon holed or forced out of a job.

        There are plenty of examples and here is one

        Billionaires club fund Green Blob “Climate Works”

        I have been following this for 20 years and I find it everywhere, especially in the UN. The ‘consensus’ is the inquisition.

  4. Ken:

    Have you done any independent research? Have you heard of the medieval warm spell, the mini ice age in the 1800″s. The dust bowl of the 1930’s or the drought in NM in the 1950’s.

    You don’t need to be a “scientist” to see that there have been numerous changes in climate in our recent past. it was only 11.000 years ago (a mere minute in geologic time) that the ice age retreated. Just look at the US Open at Chambers Bay in Washington. It is built on a huge sand and gravel pit, and where did all that come from? The glacier retreat at the end of the ice age.

    Few a years ago the drought in TX as due to climate change and treated as if it would never reverse. Then this year almost overnight TX went from 87% drought conditions to 11% and if you would look back in time this cycle has been repeated many times.

    Also, did you happen to notice that the so called “hockey stick” by Mann has disappeared from the conversation. This was the original scare tactic by these “that we would “pass the point of no return.”

    I could go on with more easy to understand examples, and i hope you realize CO2 is basically a trace gas and measured in parts per million. Have you considered that more CO2 might actually be a benefit to the world, i do know that plant life will be happy.

    1. Bill: The Mini-Ice Age is a fascinating piece of history. I still do not quite know how all the internal combustion engines at the time got the North Atlantic current to stop for 500 years. Magic, I guess.

  5. Bill, “plant life will be happy.” Anything that lives in the ocean or derives it’s livelihood from oceans will not be happy with the increased acidity caused by absorption of excess CO2 which is already destroying coral reefs which are the beginning of the oceanic food chain. Destroy the coral and the damage begins to spiral upwards.

  6. Even if everything the climate scientologists are saying is true, why is an economic suicide pact the only remedy? If we really want to make a significant impact, we can export natural gas to India… expand nuclear power… eliminate ethanol… use natural gas for motor fuel. Why is nobody talking about actual solutions?

    1. Jim, you make an excellent point about looking at various solutions, but as long as the science-denialists are so effective, or defective as one might say, it’s hard to move toward cogent responses. Apparently, you have not read the links I posted from NASA scientists – who could hardly be called scientologists – because if you had you would learn Anthropogenic Global Climate Change is real, caused by human activity and getting worse. In another forum you wrote extensively about our military services. You should be interested to know that our military – not known for practicing scientology – is preparing for the very real consequences of climate change.

      1. Our military takes orders from President Obama who is a big believer in climate change. Also, when the military says “climate change is real,” the next words out of their mouths are likely to be “and we need XXX dollars to address it.” You of all people should be hip to the fact that the military is always looking for excuses to accumulate power and money.

  7. Ken, it would be nice to here a proponent of AGW actually explain why we should believe our CO2 emissions are driving the climate instead of ridicule, quoteing of so-called consensus, and list a bunch of websites. I could do the same. Why don’t you just give us your best argument so we can have an intelligent conversation?

  8. Neal: Any arguments I would make would be based on peer-reviewed Science as reflected in the links I posted, published by NASA. It’s obvious from your post that you have not taken the time to read the material, which is discouraging, but not surprising, since it reflects the mindset of most climate-change deniers. I did all your work for you by finding and posting the links, but you can’t be bothered to read it. That’s not ridicule. It’s just a statement of fact as reflected in your post.

  9. Gentlemen, if anyone is involved in a climate change conspiracy, rather than nominate our National Science Foundation and the comparable organizations in countries around the world, I propose we see who has the most to gain economically from denying the reality of anthropogenic global climate change. That would be the fossil fuel industry.

    1. Actually, the people who have the most to gain from an end to government meddling in energy markets are the world’s poor followed closely by the poor in America. If you haven’t noticed Ken, US carbon emissions have declined over the last few decades. It is the billions of Chinese and Indians who have little or no electricity who are demanding more coal and more consistent access to electricity in order to pull themselves out of abject poverty.

      Of course, the poor and those on fixed incomes in the US will also be big losers as electricity prices rise and/or service becomes unstable.

  10. May I say that governments, both State and Federal profit more from fossil fuels than do the Companies. Hence the “screams of horror” from Santa Fe every time oil prices decline. The low energy costs of the last year due to ‘fracking’ and low natural gas and gasoline prices has been the one real win for working Americans since obama took office. To do away with fossil fuels because of emotional “science” is insane. By the way Ken. All those EPA and college Enviros would lose their grants. There is the incentive.

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