Capital Region
Climate Readiness Collaborative 
 
Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
June 25, 2014
A biweekly newsletter of the Climate Readiness Collaborative.

 

This summer you may have noticed your favorite fruits and vegetables cost more than normal, or are even absent from the farmers market altogether. As the drought and the heat - 2014 thus far is the state's warmest year on record - continue, we'll all be paying the price at the grocery store, but the worst impacts will be for the farmers and communities that rely on agriculture for their livelihood. The changes we are already seeing today highlight the urgency of researching and investing in new irrigation methods, crop varieties, and energy systems, so that we can feed our growing population in 2030, 2050, and beyond. Fortunately, our region is starting to take a lead in this - read on to learn more!

  

News and Research
Risky Business: US regions and businesses face high economic risks from climate change
The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the economic risks our nation faces from the changing climate. It summarizes findings of an independent assessment of the impact of climate change and shows that communities, industries, and properties across the US face profound risks from climate change. The findings also show that the most severe risks can still be avoided through early investments in resilience, and through immediate action to reduce the pollution that causes global warming. The report focuses on regional impacts - such as decreased labor, sea level rise, property loss, mortality, heat stroke, extreme, heat, crop yields, storm surge, and energy. Risky Business Report

Final snowpack reading predicts the worst for western states 

The National Water and Climate Center's network of high-altitude weather stations forecast water supply for the Western US by measuring snowpack level, soil moisture, and other variables. The final readings for winter 2013-2014 confirm that California and other western states will face drastically low water supplies this summer. Even worse, due to an unusually warm and early spring, snowmelt is already underway, with many sites already melted out. Read the findings or view California-specific data and forecasts on streamflow and water supply. 

Harvesting the fog? Five new ways to supply water for a parched world

Even without climate change, groundwater supplies are running dry, and there won't be enough water to grow food and provide drinking water for the predicted 2050 global population of 9 billion. That's why dry regions are examining alternative methods to produce water, from the familiar (energy-intensive desalination) to the ancient (Persian qanat waterworks) to the new (a desert greenhouse powered by saltwater and sunlight). Learn more about these methods

U.S.'s biggest agricultural crop at risk from climate change

The $65 billion corn industry is at risk due to its reliance on increasingly stressed aquifers and the growing risk of drought. Acreage of land for corn cultivation has doubled in the past two decades - driven in part by ethanol - but 87% of all corn production is in water-stressed areas. Ceres, the sustainable business organization, noted that companies dependent on corn syrup - like Coca-Cola - could help corn growers improve their resiliency and reduce water use. (Scientific American)

California wineries face uncertain future

This year's earlier spring and longer growing season will benefit grapes like cabernet sauvignon, but greater changes in the long-run may jeopardize the unique combination of soil and climate that define California wine regions. (CBS)

Crop yields will decline sooner than expected

With 2C of global warming, crop yields may start declining from the 2030s in both tropical and temperate regions. After 2050, yields may decrease by as much as 25%. These projections already factor in minor adaptation techniques, such as adjustments to crop variety and planting date. Greater climate variability will further complicate preparedness. (Phys.org)

Crops become less nutritious with higher levels of CO

When grown under the higher levels of CO2 expected by 2050, wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans all had reduced levels of the essential nutrients of iron, zinc, and protein. These staple crops are relatively low in iron and zinc but nevertheless are a major source of these nutrients for poor people and those who eat little or no meat. (Guardian)

Weeds may hold the answer for agricultural adaptation
Many of the traits that make weeds such a nuisance to farmers today make them better adapted to a climate-impacted future - weeds thrive under hotter, drier temperatures and higher levels of CO2, while domesticated crops are stressed and have lower yields. That's why plant geneticists believe that the genomes of the wild relatives of wheat, maize, and rice hold the answer to agricultural adaptation in a warming world. (Yale 360) 

 

Case Studies 

How a Yolo walnut farm is pioneering new waste to energy technology

California is among the world's leading producers of pistachios, almonds, and walnuts, but has been slower than Europe to adopt the technology of turning biomass such as nut shells into electricity and heat. Dixon Ridge Farms in Winters, Yolo County, is an exception: from 1.6 million pounds of walnut shells, it generates enough energy to power the farm, including the heat needed to dry nuts and provide winter heating each year. UC Davis research suggests that turning biomass to both heat and electricity has considerable environmental and economic benefits - it's carbon neutral - but significant changes to regulations and cap and trade are needed to provide farmers with sufficient financial incentives for them to invest in the technology. (CityLab)

UC Davis is powering itself on home-grown clean technology

The UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester has been turning food and yard waste into renewable electricity for campus facilities since April 22. Using bacteria, CleanWorld's biodigester can convert 50 tons of waste into 12,000 kWh of renewable energy each day, with the annual potential to divert 20,000 tons of waste from landfills and reduce 13,500 tons of GHG emissions. This is CleanWorld's third and largest biodigester in the region. CleanWorld is a locally grown company: a UC Davis professor developed the biodigester technology, and both she and the CEO are Davis alumni. (Link)

Funding Opportunities
USDA offers funding for turning biomass residue to energy
The funding will provide financial assistance to farmers and ranchers for harvesting and transporting biomass residues to a qualifying energy facility to generate clean energy. Program applications should come from the energy facilities that are interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues. This includes agricultural wastes such as corn husks as well as the removal of dead or diseased trees from forests, which will have an important benefit of reducing wildfires. Up to $12.5 million will be available each year. The application period is open fromJune 16 to July 14; view the Federal Register notice or the USDA website..

Energy funding for agricultural producers and rural small businesses

The USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is announcing funding for farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses to install renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. There will be $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees. REAP helps to support domestic renewable energy production, job creation, new technologies, and the rural economy. Application information and deadlines are available in the May 5, 2014 Federal Register, beginning at the bottom of page 25564 (link here).

Upcoming Events
Webinar: A Climate-Smart Approach to Adaptive Management of North-central CA Coast Habitats, Species and Ecosystem Services
August 7, 2014 10-11am

The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary's adaptation project will produce a comprehensive and prioritized adaptation implementation plan based on climate-smart principles. A climate-smart approach seeks nature-based solutions to reduce climate impacts on wildlife and people, and enhance resilience to sustain vibrant, diverse ecosystems. (Register online)

August 19-20, Sacramento - Registration is Open!
Have you heard? Information on the incredible breakout sessions at the California Adaptation Forum is now available online. 
 
Visit the Forum website to explore the amazing program, which includes over 40 plenaries and breakout sessions, tours, events and workshops falling under one of eight different cross-cutting tracks. If you are interested in how our food systems and farms are adapting to climate change, you may be interested in participating in the following breakout sessions and tours: 
  • Tour: Farm-to-Fork-to-Fuel: A Regional Resilience Strategy
  • Growing Resilience: Policy and Practice for Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change
  • How Local Food System Planning Can Create More Resilient Communities
  • The Role of Rangelands in Adapting to Climate Change
  • Reclaiming Energy: Farms, Forests and Waste Streams
This forum will attract and engage a diverse mix of over 600 policymakers, practitioners, and leaders - don't be the only one to miss out on this inaugural event!
About the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative

The Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative is a membership based collaborative network designed to promote greater climate change resilience planning coordination in the six-county Sacramento Region. The purpose of this collaborative network is to create a forum where leaders from government, academia, environmental and community groups, the business community, and labor can come together to exchange information, identify vulnerabilities and data gaps, leverage resources, and advance comprehensive solutions in an effort to create stronger, sustainable, and economically viable communities in the Sacramento Region.  If you are interested in learning more about the Climate Readiness Collaborative, joining the Collaborative, or being added to the list serv, visit: http://www.climatereadiness.info/ 

Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved.
 
This newsletter is intended for general educational and informational purposes only. 
It does not necessarily reflect the views of individual CRC members.