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California Climate Change Assessment

California has issued its third assessment of the Impacts and potential responses to Climate Change. “Our Changing Climate 2012” issued by the California Climate Change Center looks at “adaptation options in regional case studies and offers insights into regulatory, legal, socioeconomic and other barriers to adaptation so that they can be addressed effectively at the local and state levels.”

Significantly the study notes there is a range of potential changes in climate over the next century but “study findings show that the climate choices society makes today and in the coming years can have a profound impact on future conditions.”

The study goes on to find:

“By 2050, California is projected to warm by approximately 2.7°F above 2000 averages, a threefold increase in the rate of warming over the last century.
• By 2100, average temperatures could increase by 4.1– 8.6°F, depending on emissions levels.
• Springtime warming – a critical influence on snowmelt – will be particularly pronounced.
• Summer temperatures will rise more than winter temperatures, and the increases will be greater in inland California, compared to the coast.
• Heat waves will be more frequent, hotter, and longer. There will be fewer extremely cold nights.”

The study then goes on to analyze the impacts on public health, energy resources, coastal areas, etc. It notes the need to examine both mitigation and adaptation to changes that cannot be avoided: “the latest climate science makes clear that State, national and global efforts to mitigate climate change must be accelerated to limit global warming to levels that do not endanger basic life-support systems and human well-being. Success in mitigation will keep climate change within the bounds that allow ecosystems and society to adapt without major disruptions.”

-Steven Silverberg

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