Summer in Albuquerque Summer in Albuquerque
29 November 2022

Summer in Albuquerque

Written by: Annika Benedetti

These past few months have been a real crash course in what summer is like in the Southwest.

As a Northeast girl born and raised; it has been a big adjustment. However, it’s not just my ice-cold blood boiling in the desert sun, I, the country, and the whole world are experiencing the unprecedented and disastrous effects of climate change in real time. Of course, climatologists have known for decades that we are careening towards record-breaking climate emergencies becoming the norm; triple-digit heat waves, extreme hurricanes, town-destroying floods, wildlife fires, etc, etc. I can only hope we are reaching a major tipping point in the public conscious. I believe the fact we need to take immediate, wide-reaching investment into climate legislation, environmental justice, green energy, and conservation needs become mainstream in the news and politics for significant, long-lasting change to occur.

These past few months have made me further appreciate the opportunity I have as a Civilian Climate Corps Fellow to be working with the USFWS and I recognize that our work is even more important than ever. Our remote sensing work of abandoned oil and gas wells on the National Wildlife Refuge is coming along well as we refine our deep learning models and finalize our products to show refuge mangers. It is difficult for us doing remote work to know for absolute certain what the terrain of the refuges is like on the ground, so we are trying to hone our computer models as much as possible. However, that is contingent on existing data from information services that can be outdated. So, that is why we take significant time to refine our deep learning models which predict where wells can be based on the terrain of the well infrastructure. The end-product we give refuge managers is a set of coordinates of areas where there could be potential abandoned wells. Even, if only after all our months of work we positively detect only one or two abandoned wells per refuge I would still be incredibly proud of our all effort since that is a well that can be capped and remediated. And that will be a well not leaking methane contributing to climate change and harming the health of the refuge ecosystems and its human visitors and neighbors.

Luckily, the heat has not prevented me from appreciating Albuquerque in summer. Fourth of July weekend, I enjoyed visiting the Albuquerque Biopark Zoo. I had a ton of fun walking around the various exhibits, learning about different species, and seeing how the animals are reacting to the heat (as shown in the picture, which is what I feel like doing all day when its 105F outside). By next blog post, hopefully I will have had the chance to visit Albuquerque’s Aquarium and Botanical Garden!

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: Civilian Climate Corps Program (CCC)

Location: Southwest Regional Office

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