Experts: West is feeling the heat
- Ongoing warm-up hikes chances of spring floods and shrinking supply of water from snowpack.
By Stuart Leavenwo
August 16, 2004
The Sacramento Bee
For the first time, California's updated state water plan recognizes
the likelihood of global warming, and it urges agencies to
incorporate climate predictions into their blueprints for new flood-
control channels and other infrastructure.
Maury Roos, the state's chief hydrologist, says California has long
built its reservoirs and aqueducts assuming that historic weather
patterns will repeat themselves.
"With global warming, that assumption may not be valid," says Roos.
As Earth warms, he says, scientists expect that winter precipitation
will increasingly come in the form of rain instead of snow. Flood
risks could increase in the spring, and reservoirs may not fill as
regularly as they have in the past.
Already, Roos and other scientists have noticed a shift in spring
snowmelt. A century ago, the Sacramento River generated about 45
percent of its runoff from April through June, he said. Now, with the
snow melting earlier, less than 35 percent arrives during that period.
"You look at these trends and you wonder, what is happening?" said
Roos, who spent the past several decades poring over state water
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