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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. Estimating impacts of warming temperatures on California’s electricity system. Jayant A. Sathaye , Larry L. Dale , Peter H. Larsen, Gary A. Fitts, Kevin Koy, Sarah M. Lewis, Andre´ Frossard Pereira de LucenaJayant A. Sathaye, Larry L. Dale, Peter H. Larsen , Gary A. Fitts, Kevin Koy, Sarah M. Lewis, Andre´ Frossard Pereira de Lucena .
    Global Environmental Change: 2012
    <p><span style="font-size: xx-small;"> <p>Despite a clear need, little research has been carried out at the regional-level to quantify potential climate-related impacts to electricity production and delivery systems. This paper introduces a bottom- up study of climate change impacts on California&rsquo;s energy infrastructure, including high temperature effects on power plant capacity, transmission lines, substation capacity, and peak electricity demand. End-of-century impacts were projected using the A2 and B1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenarios. The study quantifies the effect of high ambient temperatures on electricity generation, the capacity of substations and transmission lines, and the demand for peak power for a set of climate scenarios. Based on these scenarios, atmospheric warming and associated peak demand increases would necessitate up to 38% of additional peak generation capacity and up to 31% additional transmission capacity, assuming current infrastructure. These findings, although based on a limited number of scenarios, suggest that additional funding could be put to good use by supporting R&amp;D into next generation cooling equipment technologies, diversifying the power generation mix without compromising the system&rsquo;s operational flexibility, and designing effective demand side management programs.</p> </span></p>

  2. Flood Management in California. Lund, Jay R..
    Water: 2012
    California's development and success have been shaped by its ability to manage floods. This management has varied over the history of California's economic and political development and continues in various forms today. California will always have flood problems. A range of options are available to aid in flood management problems and have been used over time. These options can be contrasted with flood management elsewhere and the types of options used to manage other types of hazards in California, such as earthquakes, wildfires, and droughts. In the future, flood management in California will require greater reliance on local funding and leadership, reflecting diminished federal and state funding, with more effective state and federal guidance. Effective flood management will also tend to integrate flood management with actions to achieve environmental and other water supply objectives, both to gain revenues from a broader range of beneficiaries as well as to make more efficient use of land and water in a state where both are often scarce.

  3. Future heat vulnerability in California, Part II: projecting future heat-related mortality. Sheridan, Scott C; Allen, Michael J; Lee, Cameron C & Kalkstein, Laurence S.
    Climatic Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0437-1
    Through the 21st century, a significant increase in heat events is likely across California (USA). Beyond any climate change, the state will become more vulnerable through demographic changes resulting in a rapidly aging population. To assess these impacts, future heat-related mortality estimates are derived for nine metropolitan areas in the state for the remainder of the century. Heat-related mortality is first assessed by initially determining historical weather-type mortality relationships for each metropolitan area. These are then projected into the future based on predicted weather types created in Part I. Estimates account for several levels of uncertainty: for each metropolitan area, mortality values are produced for five different climate model-scenarios, three different population projections (along with a constant-population model), and with and without partial acclimatization. Major urban centers could have a greater than tenfold increase in short-term increases in heat-related mortality in the over 65 age group by the 2090s.

  4. Future heat vulnerability in California, Part I: projecting future weather types and heat events. Sheridan, Scott C; Lee, Cameron C; Allen, Michael J & Kalkstein, Laurence S.
    Climatic Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0436-2
    Excessive heat significantly impacts the health of Californians during irregular but intense heat events. Through the 21st century, a significant increase in impact is likely, as the state experiences a changing climate as well as an aging population. To assess this impact, future heat-related mortality estimates were derived for nine metropolitan areas in the state for the remainder of the century. Here in Part I, changes in oppressive weather days and consecutive-day events are projected for future years by a synoptic climatological method. First, historical surface weather types are related to circulation patterns at 500mb and 700mb, and temperature patterns at 850mb. GCM output is then utilized to classify future circulation patterns via discriminant function analysis, and multinomial logistic regression is used to derive future surface weather type at each of six stations in California. Five different climate model-scenarios are examined. Results show a significant increase in heat events over the 21st century, with oppressive weather types potentially more than doubling in frequency, and with heat events of 2 weeks or longer becoming up to ten timesmore common at coastal locations.

  5. Glacier variability in the conterminous United States during the twentieth century. Gregory J. McCabe, Andrew G. Fountain.
    Climatic Change: 2012
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0502-9
    Glaciers of the conterminous United States have been receding for the past century. Since 1900 the recession has varied from a 24 % loss in area (Mt. Rainier, Washington) to a 66 % loss in the Lewis Range of Montana. The rates of retreat are generally similar with a rapid loss in the early decades of the 20th century, slowing in the 1950s-1970s, and a resumption of rapid retreat starting in the 1990s. Decadal estimates of changes in glacier area for a subset of 31 glaciers from 1900 to 2000 are used to test a snow water equivalent model that is subsequently employed to examine the effects of temperature and precipitation variability on annual glacier area changes for these glaciers. Model results indicate that both winter precipitation and winter temperature have been important climatic factors affecting the variability of glacier variability during the 20th Century. Most of the glaciers analyzed appear to be more sensitive to temperature variability than to precipitation variability. However, precipitation variability is important, especially for high elevation glaciers. Additionally, glaciers with areas greater than 1 km2 are highly sensitive to variability in temperature.

  6. Ground referencing GRACE satellite estimates of groundwater storage changes in the California Central Valley, USA. B. R. Scanlon, L. Longuevergne, D. Long.
    Water Resources Research: 2012
    DOI: 10.1029/2011WR011311
    There is increasing interest in using Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite data to remotely monitor groundwater storage variations; however, comparisons with ground-based well data are limited but necessary to validate satellite data processing, especially when the study area is close to or below the GRACE footprint. The Central Valley is a heavily irrigated region with large-scale groundwater depletion during droughts. Here we compare updated estimates of groundwater storage changes in the California Central Valley using GRACE satellites with storage changes from groundwater level data. A new processing approach was applied that optimally uses available GRACE and water balance component data to extract changes in groundwater storage. GRACE satellites show that groundwater depletion totaled 31.0 ± 3.0 km3 for Groupe de Recherche de Geodesie Spatiale (GRGS) satellite data during the drought from October 2006 through March 2010. Groundwater storage changes from GRACE agreed with those from well data for the overlap period (April 2006 through September 2009) (27 km3 for both). General correspondence between GRACE and groundwater level data validates the methodology and increases confidence in use of GRACE satellites to monitor groundwater storage changes.

  7. Isotopic measurements of atmospheric methane in Los Angeles, California, USA reveal the influence of "fugitive" fossil fuel emissions. Amy Townsend-Small, Stanley C. Tyler, Diane E. Pataki, Xiaomei Xu & Lance E. Christensen.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres: 2012
    DOI: 10.1029/2011JD016826
    Recent studies have suggested that CH4 emissions in Los Angeles and other large cities may be underestimated. We utilized stable isotopes (13C and D) and radiocarbon (14C) to investigate sources of CH4 in Los Angeles, California. First, we made measurements of δ13C and δD of various CH4 sources in urban areas. Fossil fuel CH4 sources (oil refineries, power plants, traffic, and oil drilling fields) had δ13C values between −45 and −30‰ and dD values between −275 and −100‰, whereas biological CH4 (cows, biofuels, landfills, sewage treatment plants, and cattle feedlots) had δ13C values between −65 and −45‰ and δD values between −350 and −275‰. We made high-altitude observations of CH4 concentration using continuous tunable laser spectroscopy measurements combined with isotope analyses (13C, 14C, and D) of discrete samples to constrain urban CH4 sources. Our data indicate that the dominant source of CH4 in Los Angeles has a δ13C value of approximately −41.5‰ and a δD value between −229 and −208‰. Δ14C of CH4 in urban air samples ranged from +262 to +344‰ (127.1 to 134.9 pMC), depleted with respect to average global background CH4. We conclude that the major source of CH4 in Los Angeles is leakage of fossil fuels, such as from geologic formations, natural gas pipelines, oil refining, and/or power plants. More research is needed to constrain fluxes of CH4 from natural gas distribution and refining, as this flux may increase with greater reliance on natural gas and biogas for energy needs.

  8. Long-term perspective on wildfires in the western USA. Jennifer R. Marlon, Patrick J. Bartlein, Daniel G. Gavin, Colin J. Long, R. Scott Anderson, Christy E. Briles, Kendrick J..
    : 2012

  9. Modeling impacts of climate change on Joshua trees at their southern boundary: How scale impacts predictions. Cameron W. Barrows, Michelle L. Murphy-Mariscal.
    Center for Conservation Biology, University of California, Riverside Biological Conservation: 2012
    <p><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;"><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;"> <p>Predicting ecological responses to a changing climate is becoming a critical tool to inform natural</p> <span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;"> <p>resource management efforts. Within Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP), Joshua trees (</p> </span></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-I; font-size: xx-small;"><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-I; font-size: xx-small;">Yucca brevifolia</span></span><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;"> </span> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;"><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;">2 </span></span><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;"></span> <p>&nbsp;</p> </p> <p><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;">statistic and constructed a finer-scale model of the Joshua tree&rsquo;s current distribution </span> <p>&nbsp;</p> </p> <p>within and surrounding JTNP, and then assessed their sensitivity to a gradient of climate change scenarios.</p> <p>Local scale analyses may identify local adaptations and climate-change refugia, a result which may</p> <p>not be possible with larger scale analyses. Under the most severe climate scenario we modeled (a 3 C</p> <p>increase in mean July maximum temperature) there was a 90% reduction in their current distribution,</p> <p>nevertheless a refugium of suitable Joshua tree habitat still remained within JTNP. A niche model for</p> <p>juvenile Joshua trees revealed a near match with the boundary of the +1 C shifted adult model providing</p> <p>a level of model validation, consistent with a hypothesis that early levels of climate change may have</p> <p>already had an impact on Joshua tree recruitment. The match of juvenile Joshua trees provides support</p> <p>for the findings of our climate-shifted niche models for the future distribution of this species within JTNP.</p> <p>This analysis represents a more optimistic scenario than previously published models of climate change</p> <p>impacts on Joshua trees.</p> </p> <p><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;">) </span> <p>&nbsp;</p> </p> <p>reach their southern-most distribution. Previous research modeling distributional shifts of Joshua trees</p> <p>in response to climate change have been conducted at large regional scales, predicting widespread</p> <p>extirpation of Joshua trees from their current southern and central distribution. Here we employed the</p> <p><span style="font-family: AdvGulliv-R; font-size: xx-small;"> <p>Mahalanobis D</p> </span></p>

  10. Modeling wildlife and other trade-offs with biofuel crop production. David M. Stoms, Frank W. Davis, Mark W. Jenner, Theresa M. Nogeire, & Stephen R. Kaffka.
    Global Change Biology Bioenergy: 2012
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01130.x
    Biofuels from agricultural sources are an important part of California's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil. Land conversion for agricultural and urban uses has already imperiled many animal species in the state. This study investigated the potential impacts on wildlife of shifts in agricultural activity to increase biomass production for transportation fuels. We applied knowledge of the suitability of California's agricultural landscapes for wildlife species to evaluate wildlife effects associated with plausible scenarios of expanded production of three potential biofuel crops (sugar beets, bermudagrass, and canola). We also generated alternative, spatially explicit scenarios that minimized loss of habitat for the same level of biofuel production. We explored trade-offs to compare the marginal changes per unit of energy for transportation costs, wildlife, land and water-use, and total energy produced, and found that all five factors were influenced by crop choice. Sugar beet scenarios require the least land area: 3.5 times less land per liter of gasoline equivalent than bermudagrass and five times less than canola. Canola scenarios had the largest impacts on wildlife but the greatest reduction in water use. Bermudagrass scenarios resulted in a slight overall improvement for wildlife over the current situation. Relatively minor redistribution of lands converted to biofuel crops could produce the same energy yield with much less impact on wildlife and very small increases in transportation costs. This framework provides a means to systematically evaluate potential wildlife impacts of alternative production scenarios and could be a useful complement to other frameworks that assess impacts on ecosystem services and greenhouse gas emissions.


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