Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Study predicts a much hotter, drier California

Expand Messages
  • npat1
    Fw: [fuelcell-energy] ... Study predicts a much hotter, drier California - Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer Tuesday, August 1, 2006 California will
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      Fw: [fuelcell-energy]

      ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
      Study predicts a much hotter, drier California
      - Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
      Tuesday, August 1, 2006

      California will become significantly hotter and drier by the end of
      the century, causing severe air pollution, a drop in the water
      supply, melting of 90 percent of the Sierra snowpack and up to six
      times more heat-related deaths in major urban centers, according to a
      sweeping study compiled with help from respected scientists from
      around the country.

      The weather -- up to 10.5 degrees warmer by 2100 -- would make last
      month's heat wave look average. If industrial and vehicle emissions
      continue unabated, there could be up to 100 more days a year when
      temperatures hit 90 degrees or above in Los Angeles and 95 degrees or
      above in Sacramento. Both cities have about 20 days of such extreme
      heat now.

      The good news: If emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
      gases are significantly curtailed, according to the report released
      Tuesday, the number of extremely hot days might only increase by half
      that amount.

      The report, released by the California Environmental Protection
      Agency, comes from the California Climate Change Center, established
      three years ago by the California Energy Commission. Scripps
      Institution of Oceanography and UC Berkeley are responsible for the
      core research and about 75 scientists from universities, government
      agencies and nonprofit groups contributed to the report, which has
      been billed as a layperson's guide to technical documents prepared in
      support of initiatives to address global warming by Gov.
      Schwarzenegger and legislators.

      "What we wanted to do with the document is summarize the scientific
      reports, so regular citizens can understand the grave concerns that
      we believe are facing California,'' said Claudia Chandler, assistant
      executive director of the California Energy Commission.

      Climate experts have faith in the reliability of global climate
      models and their ability to forecast what will happen to the planet
      as the heat-trapping greenhouse gases continue to build in the
      atmosphere. However, some scientists have been reluctant to say how
      global warming may affect specific regions, including areas the size
      of California. That's because there's debate over whether models are
      good enough to zoom in on possible local effects of planetary climate

      But Chandler said the state was depending on the core of scientists
      who prepared the report to use the best models available to help the
      state prepare for possible problems looming in the not too distant
      future. "We probably won't know until 10 years from now. But that
      will be too late. We cannot turn our backs on trying to address this
      very serious situation.''

      Highlights of the report include:

      -- Hotter weather would increase the risk of death from dehydration,
      heat stroke, heart attacks, stroke and respiratory distress. Under
      the most extreme scenario, heat-related deaths could increase four or
      six times.

      -- The snowpack, the state's top source of fresh drinking water,
      could nearly disappear. That would pose a challenge to water agencies
      that now rely on slowly melting snow to replenish reservoirs.

      -- Power demand could up as much as 20 percent, but hydropower
      supplies would drop.

      -- Heat stresses dairy cows, which could produce up to 20 percent
      less milk. Fruit and nut trees could produce smaller, inferior
      quality crops. Wine grape quality could be severely impacted in all
      but the coolest growing regions.

      -- Sea levels would rise, possibly inundating the Sacramento-San
      Joaquin Delta, a source of two-thirds of the state's drinking water.

      "We looked at agriculture, one of the state's most important sectors,
      and the increased potential of wildfires,'' said Chandler.

      "We looked at public health from the standpoint of deteriorating air
      quality, and the reduced water from the Sierra Nevada snowpack. We
      looked at what rising sea levels would mean to the delta's water
      pumps and levees and to the coastal cities of Los Angeles, San
      Francisco, Oakland and San Diego.''

      The study authors based their assessments on what would happen in
      California under three different emissions scenarios. The amount of
      emissions would determine the amount of temperature rise over the
      century as greenhouse gases trapped excess heat that would otherwise
      radiate into space. These scenarios -- which contain varying
      assumptions on economic and population growth, use of new efficient
      technologies and shifts away from the use of fossil fuels -- have
      been adopted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
      Change, a collaboration of 2,000 scientists from 100 countries.

      With continued higher emissions, temperature rises are projected
      between 8 and 10.5-degrees compared to medium emissions with
      temperature rises between 5.5 and 8-degrees Fahrenheit. With lower
      emissions, the temperature is projected to rise between 3 and 5.5
      degrees Fahrenheit.

      Those varying scenarios could significantly impact how global warming
      affects California, the report said. For example, if temperatures
      rise as much as 5.5 degrees, there will be 75 to 85 percent more days
      with weather conducive to production of unhealthful smog in Los
      Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley than now, it said. The days could
      be cut if emissions stayed at the lower scenario.

      Sea levels have already risen about seven inches along the California
      coast in the past century. If greenhouse gases continue and
      temperatures rise into the upper range, the ocean is expected to rise
      22 to 35 inches by the end of the century.

      The mix of increasingly severe winter storms and high tides are
      expected to cause more frequent and severe flooding, erosion and
      damage to coastal structures, the report said.

      The report concludes that California policy alone cannot
      significantly affect the warming planet.

      "California alone cannot stabilize the planet. However, the state's
      actions can drive global progress," the report concludes. If other
      states and nation's follow California's example of limiting emissions
      of greenhouse gases "we would be on track to keep temperatures from
      rising ... and thus avoid the most severe consequences of global

      E-mail Jane Kay at jkay@....

      URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?


      SEE ALSO:

      A Report From:
      California Climate Change Center
      Prepared By:
      Dan Cayan, Scripps Institution of
      Oceanography, University of California, San
      Amy Lynd Luers, Union of Concerned
      Michael Hanemann, University of California
      Guido Franco, California Energy Commission
      Bart Croes, California Air Resources Board




      Yahoo! Groups Links
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.