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Browse publications gathered by the California Energy Commission that focus on climate change issues relevant to the State of California. Find both PIER research papers as well as relevant articles published in peer reviewed journals.

Publications Published in 2012

  1. Climate change in California: scenarios and approaches for adaptation. Mastrandrea, Michael D & Luers, Amy L.
    Climatic Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0240-4
    Even with aggressive global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the climate will continue to change for decades due to previous emissions and the inertia in biogeophysical and social systems. Therefore, as a complement to mitigation actions, society must also focus on enhancing its capacity to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change that we are already experiencing and will continue to experience over the next few decades. Resource managers, regional planners, and government agencies need to consider climate risks in their planning. We provide an overview of climate change scenarios for California and suggestions on the use of climate projections in state and regional planning efforts in the future.

  2. Consequences of widespread tree mortality triggered by drought and temperature stress . William R. L. Anderegg, Jeffrey M. Kane and Leander D. L. Anderegg.
    Nature Climate Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1635

  3. Contemporaneous Subsidence and Levee Overtopping Potential, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California. Benjamin A. Brooks, Gerald Bawden, Deepak Manjunath, Charles Werner, Noah Knowles, James Foster, Joel Dudas, and Daniel R. Cayan.
    San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science: 2012
    The levee system in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta helps protect freshwater quality in a critical estuarine ecosystem that hosts substantial agricultural infrastructure and a large human population. We use space-based synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR) to provide synoptic vertical land motion measurements of the Delta and levee system from 1995 to 2000. We find that Delta ground motion reflects seasonal hydrologic signals superimposed on average subsidence trends of 3-20 mm/yr. Because the measurements are insensitive to subsidence associated with peat thickness variations over Delta-island length scales, it is most likely that InSAR rates reflect underlying Quaternary sedimentary column compaction. We combine InSAR rates with sea-level rise scenarios to quantify 21st century levee overtopping potential. If left unmitigated, it is likely that 50 to 100 years from now much of the levee system will subside below design thresholds.

  4. Does the Madden-Julian Oscillation Influence Wintertime Atmospheric Rivers and Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada?. Bin Guan, Duane E. Waliser, Noah P. Molotch, Eric J. Fetzer & Paul J. Neiman.
    Monthly Weather Review: 2012
    DOI: 10.1175/MWR-D-11-00087.1
    The relationships between the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO), activities of atmospheric rivers (ARs), and the resulting snowpack accumulation in the California Sierra Nevada, are analyzed based on 13 yr of observations for water years 1998-2010 inclusive. The AR activity, as measured by the number of high-impact ARs, mean per event snow water equivalent (SWE) changes, and the cumulative SWE changes, is shown to be significantly augmented when MJO convection is active over the far western tropical Pacific (phase 6 on the Wheeler-Hendon diagram). The timing of high-impact ARs (early- versus late-winter occurrences) also appears to be regulated by the MJO. Total snow accumulation in the Sierra Nevada (i.e., AR and non-AR accumulation combined) is most significantly increased when MJO convection is active over the eastern Indian Ocean (phase 3), and reduced when MJO convection is active over the Western Hemisphere (phase 8), with the magnitude of the daily anomaly being roughly half the cold-season mean daily snow accumulation over many snow sensor sites. The positive (negative) SWE anomaly is accompanied by a cold (warm) surface air temperature (SAT) anomaly and an onshore (offshore) water vapor flux anomaly. The contrasting SAT anomaly patterns associated with MJO phases 3 and 8, revealed by the in situ observations, are more realistically represented in the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder retrievals than in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Interim reanalysis.

  5. Downscaling future climate scenarios to fine scales for hydrologic and ecological modeling and analysis. Lorraine E Flint, Alan L Flint.
    Ecological Processes: 2012
    DOI: 10.1186/2192-1709-1-2
    Introduction Evaluating the environmental impacts of climate change on water resources and biological components of the landscape is an integral part of hydrologic and ecological investigations, and the resultant land and resource management in the twenty-first century. Impacts of both climate and simulated hydrologic parameters on ecological processes are relevant at scales that reflect the heterogeneity and complexity of landscapes. At present, simulations of climate change available from global climate models [GCMs] require downscaling for hydrologic or ecological applications. Methods Using statistically downscaled future climate projections developed using constructed analogues, a methodology was developed to further downscale the projections spatially using a gradient-inverse-distance-squared approach for application to hydrologic modeling at 270-m spatial resolution. Results This paper illustrates a methodology to downscale and bias-correct national GCMs to subkilometer scales that are applicable to fine-scale environmental processes. Four scenarios were chosen to bracket the range of future emissions put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Fine-scale applications of downscaled datasets of ecological and hydrologic correlations to variation in climate are illustrated. Conclusions The methodology, which includes a sequence of rigorous analyses and calculations, is intended to reduce the addition of uncertainty to the climate data as a result of the downscaling while providing the fine-scale climate information necessary for ecological analyses. It results in new but consistent data sets for the US at 4 km, the southwest US at 270 m, and California at 90 m and illustrates the utility of fine-scale downscaling to analyses of ecological processes influenced by topographic complexity.

  6. Drivers of change in estuarine-coastal ecosystems: Discoveries from four decades of study in San Francisco Bay. James E. Cloern, Alan D. Jassby.
    Reviews Geographics : 2012
    DOI: DOI: 10.1029/2012RG000397

  7. Erratum to: Potential impacts of increased coastal flooding in California due to sea-level rise. Heberger, Matthew; Cooley, Heather; Herrera, Pablo; Gleick, Peter H & Moore, Eli.
    Climatic Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0397-5

  8. Erratum to: Second California Assessment: integrated climate change impacts assessment of natural and managed systems. Guest editorial. Franco, Guido; Cayan, DanielR; Moser, Susanne; Hanemann, Michael & Jones, Myoung-Ae.
    Climatic Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0520-7

  9. Erratum to: Simulating the impacts of climate change, prices and population on California's residential electricity consumption. Auffhammer, Maximilian & Aroonruengsawat, Anin.
    Climatic Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0519-1
    We discovered an error in the computer code generating the simulation results in section 5 of Auffhammer and Aroonruengsawat (Clim Chang 109(Supplement 1):191–210, 2011). While four out of five main findings are unaffected, the simulated impacts of climate change on annual residential electricity consumption are an order of magnitude smaller, which is consistent with findings in the previous literature.

  10. Estimated effects of climate change on flood vulnerability of U.S. bridges. Len Wright, Paul Chinowsky, Kenneth Strzepek, Russell Jones, Richard Streeter, Joel B. Smith, Jean-Marc Mayotte, Anthony Powell, Lesley Jantarasami, William Perkins.
    Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1007/s11027-011-9354-2
    We assessed the potential impacts of increased river flooding from climate change on bridges in the continental United States. Daily precipitation statistics from four climate models and three greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenarios (A2, A1B, and B1) were used to capture a range of potential changes in climate. Using changes in maximum daily precipitation, we estimated changes to the peak flow rates for the 100-year return period for 2,097 watersheds. These estimates were then combined with information from the National Bridge Inventory database to estimate changes to bridge scour vulnerability. The results indicate that there may be significant potential risks to bridges in the United States from increased precipitation intensities. Approximately 129,000 bridges were found to be currently deficient. Tens of thousands to more than 100,000 bridges could be vulnerable to increased river flows. Results by region vary considerably. In general, more bridges in eastern areas are vulnerable than those in western areas. The highest GHG emissions scenarios result in the largest number of bridges being at risk. The costs of adapting vulnerable bridges to avoid increased damage associated with climate change vary from approximately $140 to $250 billion through the 21st century. If these costs were spread out evenly over the century, the annual costs would be several billion dollars. The costs of protecting the bridges against climate change risks could be reduced by approximately 30% if existing deficient bridges are improved with riprap.


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