California Releases New Climate Science, Planning Tools to Prepare for Climate Change Impacts

  • by California Natural Resources Agency
  • Aug 28, 2018
  • Water News

SACRAMENTO – Warning that two-thirds of Southern California’s beaches could completely disappear and the average area burned by wildfires could nearly double by 2100, the State of California Aug. 27 released California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, which details new science on the devastating impacts of climate change and provides planning tools to support the state’s response.

“In California, facts and science still matter,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change.”

The compilation of original climate research includes 44 technical reports and 13 summary reports on climate change impacts to help ready the state for a future punctuated by severe wildfires, more frequent and longer droughts, rising sea levels, increased flooding, coastal erosion and extreme heat events. The peer-reviewed research translates global models into scaled-down, regionally relevant reports to fill information gaps and support decisions at the local, regional and state levels.

California has completed three prior Climate Change Assessments. Since the release of California’s Third Climate Change Assessment in 2012, the state has experienced several of the most extreme natural events in its recorded history, including a severe five-year drought, an unprecedented tree mortality crisis, damaging floods driven by atmospheric rivers, and increasingly large and destructive wildfires.

The Fourth Assessment suggests these events will worsen in the future. Among the key findings:

  • Wildfire: Climate change will make forests more susceptible to extreme wildfires. By the year 2100, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, one study found that the average area burned by wildfires would increase 77 percent and the frequency of extreme wildfires burning more than 25,000 acres would increase by nearly 50 percent. In the areas that have the highest fire risk, the cost of wildfire insurance is estimated to rise by 18 percent by 2055. Additionally, the percentage of property insured in California would decrease.
  • Sea-Level Rise: Under mid to high sea-level rise scenarios, up to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may completely erode by 2100 without large-scale human interventions. Statewide damages could reach nearly $17.9 billion from inundation of residential and commercial buildings if sea-level rise reaches 20 inches, which is within range of mid-century projections. A 100-year coastal flood, on top of this level of sea-level rise, would almost double the cost of damages. Updated modeling can help local planners analyze vulnerabilities in their area.
  • Energy: Higher temperatures will increase annual electricity demand for homes, primarily for use of air conditioning units. High demand is projected in inland regions and Southern California. More moderate increases are projected in cooler coastal areas. Increases in peak hourly demand during the hot months of the year could be more pronounced. This is a critical finding for California’s electric system, because generating capacity must match peak electricity demand.
  • Extreme Heat Events and Impacts on Public Health: Heat-related illnesses and deaths are projected to worsen drastically throughout the state. By mid-century, the Central Valley is projected to experience heat waves that average two weeks longer than those today, and the hot spells could occur four to 10 times more often in the Northern Sierra region. A new California Heat Assessment Tool (CHAT) could support public health departments as they work to reduce heat-related deaths and illnesses.

The latest reports also detail the unique and disproportionate climate threats to vulnerable communities and tribal communities, with a focus on working collaboratively with these communities on research and solutions for resilience. In addition, a report set for release in early September will highlight how California can better integrate climate impacts in design processes for critical infrastructure.

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Achieving Water Use Efficiency Through Water Loss Reduction

Achieving Water Use Efficiency Through Water Loss Reduction outlines the state’s process for developing water loss performance standards for urban retail […]

2020 PSPS Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Webinar: COVID-19 Series – The Great Re-Set: Leading the Workplace Post COVID-19

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter: Request for Water Infrastructure Funding in Future COVID-19 Legislation

To: Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy Subject: ACWA Request for Water Infrastructure Funding […]

Coalition Letter: Funding for Water Infrastructure and Water Affordability in Response to COVID-19

To: Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Senators Feinstein and Harris, and Members of the California Congressional Delegation Subject: Include Urgently […]

Comment Letter: Draft Fund Expenditure Plan for the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund

Agency: State Water Resource Control Board Subject: Comment Letter – Draft Fund Expenditure Plan for the Safe and Affordable Drinking […]

Comment Letter: Water Loss Regulation

To: Ms. Jeanine Townsend Subject: Comment Letter – Water Loss Regulation Webinar Letter excerpt: The coalition of organizations listed below […]

Webinar: Geohazard Mitigation for California Water Agencies

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Coalition Letter: Regulation of PFOS, PFOA and other PFAS in Drinking Water

To: The Honorable Andrew Wheeler Subject: Regulation of PFOS, PFOA and other PFAS in drinking water Letter excerpt: We appreciate the […]

Comment Letter: Proposed Decision Adopting Additional and Modified De-Energization Guidelines

Agency: California Public Utilities Commission Subject: Joint Comments of Valley Center Municipal Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Municipal Water […]

Comment Letter: White Paper Discussion on Economic Feasibility Analysis in Consideration of a Hexavalent Chromium MCL

To: Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board State Water Resources Control Board Subject: White Paper Discussion on Economic Feasibility Analysis […]

ACWA Submits Letters Urging State and Federal Leadership to Achieve Voluntary Agreements

To: Governor Newsom and U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Bernhardt Subject: Voluntary Agreements Description: ACWA urges Gov. Newsom and Secretary […]

Coalition Letter: Funding for Water Infrastructure & Affordability in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

To: Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy and Members of the California Congressional Delegation: Subject: Include Urgently Needed Funding for Water […]

Webinar: How to Reduce Costs with PG&E’s New Time-of-Use (TOU) Rate Analysis

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter: Draft Handbook for Water Budget Development

Agency: California Department of Water Resources Subject: Comment Letter on the ‘Draft Handbook for Water Budget Development: With or Without […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
EMWD Honored for Financial Reporting Excellence

PERRIS — Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) was recently recognized for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers […]

Deadlines Approaching for ACWA’s 2020 Fall Awards

ACWA will present several awards at its 2020 Fall Conference & Exhibition, and the deadline to apply for two of […]

ACWA 2020 Summer Virtual Conference Materials Available Until Aug. 14

The materials for ACWA’s first-ever 2020 Summer Virtual Conference and Exhibition are available to conference attendees until Aug. 14. The […]

Fitch Ratings Upgrades San Juan Water District’s Credit Rating

GRANITE BAY – In July 2020, in spite of the economic challenges presented by the pandemic, Fitch Ratings Services upgraded […]

WRD Approves Construction of Two New Monitoring Wells

LAKEWOOD – The Water Replenishment District (WRD) is embarking on a project to construct two new wells as part of […]

Rowland Water Garners Statewide Spotlight for Customer Outreach

ROWLAND HEIGHTS – Rowland Water District is pleased to announce that it has received multiple honors in this year’s California […]

El Dorado Water Agency Launches New Brand

PLACERVILLE – The El Dorado Water Agency (formerly El Dorado County Water Agency) recently launched a new name and logo […]

ACWA Awards Scholarships to Four California College Students

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has awarded $17,000 in scholarships to four undergraduate students enrolled at […]

Western Municipal Water District Announces 2020 Water is Life Art Contest Winners

RIVERSIDE – Each year, Western Municipal Water District (Western) hosts the annual Water is Life art contest for students in […]

Placer County Water Agency Receives 2020 Clair A. Hill Water Agency Award

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented the prestigious Clair A. Hill Water Agency Award for […]

ACWA Presents Leadership Award to The Water Replenishment District GM Robb Whitaker

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented its 2020 Excellence in Water Leadership Award to The […]

ACWA’s John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship Awarded to Helen Rocha

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented its first-ever John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship to […]

State Releases Final Water Resilience Portfolio

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom today released the final version of his Administration’s Water Resilience Portfolio, intended as a roadmap […]

Second Virtual Coffee with Palmdale Water District Directors

PALMDALE –  Two Palmdale Water District (PWD) Board Directors will hold individual Facebook Live events next week to continue honoring their […]

Yuba Water Advances Major Flood Risk Reduction Project

MARYSVILLE – Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors Thursday authorized staff to move forward with a new design of an […]