Climate researchers at the University of Arizona are crossing their fingers for another wet monsoon.
The start of the 2023 monsoon season also marks the start of the third Southwest Monsoon Fantasy Forecasts game, which brings together amateur forecasters to compete against one another with their monsoon season predictions.
Researchers at the University of Arizona's Arizona Institute for Resilience launched the game, now in its third consecutive year, in 2021.
Players predict the total amount of rainfall during the monsoon season, which runs from July through September, for the five major cities in the Southwest monsoon region – Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Albuquerque and El Paso. Forecasts must be submitted before the start of each month, and scores are generated based on the accuracy and riskiness of predictions.
The motivation for creating the game was to engage with people's curiosity about climate, especially at a ripe moment like monsoon season, said Zack Guido, principal investigator for the fantasy forecasts project and an assistant professor at the Arizona Institute for Resilience.
But there's another important motivation, Guido added. People often talk about climate in gloomy, apocalyptic ways, and there are reasons for that, Guido said. But he believes a game like fantasy forecasts can generate hope and stimulate learning about climate.
"We wanted to make climate not a villain, but a hero," Guido said.