Navajo Memory Complements Science in Study of Climate Change
USGS news release, 21 October 2011

ARIZONA, USA: The sand dunes among which Navajos have eked out austere livings for generations are growing fast and becoming mobile as the climate changes, says U.S. Geological Survey geologist Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer, whose interviews with elders and historical research augment her decade-long research on Navajo Nation land. Dune mobility can threaten roads and buildings, as well as the livestock raising vital to the Navajo economy and indispensable to its culture. It is one of many signs of the region’s increased aridity. Redsteer and the USGS Navajo Land Use Planning Project, under license to and in collaboration with the Navajo Nation, are mapping the area’s geology and documenting its changes to help Navajo leaders plan for the challenge. In addition to using ground-based lidar measurements, meteorological monitoring, GPS and aerial and satellite imaging, Redsteer drew on more than 70 elders living in the southwestern Navajo Nation to record observed changes in land use practices, as well as weather, vegetation, location of water sources and the frequency of wind and dust storms. The interviews helped corroborate USGS science. Read the release … Download USGS fact sheet Monitoring and Analysis of Sand Dune Movement and Growth on the Navajo Nation [pdf] …