The climate of the Sonoran Desert is the result of global air circulation patterns that keep it dry most of the year. Locally, great variation in elevation gives rise to several microclimates that foster the great biodiversity seen here. The climate was not always so dry however, and the fossil record reveals much wetter, cooler conditions during the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago. In the more recent past (400 years ago), the region is known to have experienced periodic dry spells, with droughts lasting 20-30 years. Climate will continue to change into the future, and current predictions for the Southwest are that it will be warmer, though future changes in precipitation are less certain.

Retrieved from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum web site on 06-20-2024