Climate change in California’s Bay-Delta


(KTSF by Jessie Liang)

Mountain View, CA – USGS scientists and academic colleagues have investigated how the Bay-Delta system is expected to change from 2010 to 2099 in response to both fast and moderate climate warming scenarios.

USGS senior scientist James Cloern says this area will feel impacts of global climate change in the next century with shifts in its biological communities, rising sea level, and modified water supplies. “This place is important as an eco-system for sustainability of California’s biological diversity of fish, for example. It’s important for water supply, and of course it’s important for California’s economy,” said Cloern.


The impacts of climate change to California’s watersheds would also affect California’s farmland which is producing crops valued at $36 billion a year. Scientists have used computers to set up both fast and moderate climate warming scenarios  to chase the daily temperature of weather and precipitation, and the increasing rate of greenhouse gas emission. This scientific research could help to understand and manage this valuable system that continues to provide the services we need in the face of climate change. “The fast rate of warming is a scenario of business as usual. We continue to eat, increase inputs of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. And moderate warming scenarios are where we get control of emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and slow the rate of warming,” said Cloern.

The report’s findings provide new information to create adaptable steps in response to climate warming. Cloern said, “For example, set efficiency standards for gasoline use of cars, set standards for how much our energy, our electricity in particular is produced from renewable sources. So these kinds of steps at the state level are important just like steps taken by individuals being more efficient with the energy we use.”

Cloern said when we plan for the future, it is important to consider more than just global warming. We also have to consider other instigators such as population growth, land-use changes and coastal landscapes.

In addition to providing future visions of the Bay-Delta system, this research provides general lessons to guide development of adaptation strategies. Anticipation, flexibility, and adaptability will be the keys to the success of those strategies in the future.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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