Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
January 29, 2015
A biweekly newsletter of the Climate Readiness Collaborative.


Despite a rainy end to 2014 that raised reservoir levels, Sacramento is now on pace to have the driest January since the first official weather observation was made on July 1, 1877. Historically, January has been the peak of California's rainy season, and the current lack of rain does not bode well for a relief to severe drought conditions.  

News and Research
$7.5 billion water bond is opportunity to transform California's current water system
Photo: Dick Schmidt/Sacramento

Beyond traditional large reservoirs, the state should explore and invest in new approaches and infrastructure, including better stewardship of groundwater resources, enhanced ecosystems, and improving urban water use. Recharging underground aquifers and protecting natural infrastructure are important to help reduce the vulnerability of the water system: Forests are the source of more than 60 percent of the state's water, and wetlands filter and store water as well as temper flooding. An integrated urban plan to improve water efficiency will boost resiliency and reduce costs, with possible measures including drought-tolerant landscaping, investing in local supply, wastewater treatment facilities, and permeable surfaces for rainwater filtration. (Sacramento Bee)

New study of atmospheric rivers will help predict storms and flooding for California

Atmospheric rivers (AR) such as the Pineapple Express carry massive amounts of moisture long distances from the tropics, producing up to 50 percent of California's precipitation. CalWater 2015, an interagency team of scientists, will provide a better understanding of how ARs and aerosols affect California's precipitation using remote sensing and research aircraft. The data will ultimately help develop better climate projections for water and will help test the potential of using existing reservoirs in new ways based on AR forecasts. The results will help produce better forecasts of AR timing, location, and precipitation levels, and will help communities to make informed water management decisions to respond to drought and flood. An earlier round of research showed that aerosols from different sources had different effects, with intercontinental mineral dust and biological particles corresponding to events with more precipitation, while aerosols produced by local air pollution correlated with less precipitation. (Science Daily)

17 cities in Western U.S. experience hottest-ever year in 2014

Photo: Climate Central


California is home to 10 of the cities, including Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Francisco, and Stockton. Not a single city in the U.S. has experienced a record cold year in the past 30 years. Though most temperature records are set by tenths or hundredth of a degree, this year Bakersfield, Vallejo, Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, and California as a whole are exceeding their past records by 2 or 3 degrees. (Climate Central)

California's large trees are losing out to climate change

Throughout the state, California forests have lost more than half of all trees larger than two feet in diameter, from 55% in the high Sierras to nearly 75% in southern California. While logging and development contributed to the decline, the greatest loss was in areas where trees had suffered the greatest water deficit. Rising temperatures, which increase evapotranspiration, and declining snow pack have all decreased water availability, and a warming climate will further exacerbate these factors. This is likely part of a trend toward smaller trees in western forests, but big trees play a critical ecological role. They produce more seeds, resist wildfire damage, host species, and store more carbon than their smaller brethren. (National Geographic)

How almonds are transforming California agriculture - and water

It takes a gallon of water to produce a single almond, but California's severe drought has barely slowed the growth in lucrative almond production. The Central Valley now grows 80% of the world's almonds, and the $4.8 billion California almond market (in 2012) draws big investment funds and small farmers alike. The shift towards almonds and tree nuts is driven by high prices and demand, but this contributes to serious groundwater depletion in the valley. As land devoted to almonds increases, so does the number of wells drilled, with increasing ecological and health costs. (Grist)

Is there a future for California's chinook salmon?
Photo: Pacific Northwest National Lab


Record drought and warming waters due to climate change are jeopardizing the future of Chinook salmon, a critical part of the state's fishing industry. Already this year, warmer water in the Sacramento River destroyed millions of eggs, losing almost an entire year-class of fall- and winter-run salmon. With increasing human demand for water and climate change models predicting warmer waters and intensified droughts, scientists are concerned that Chinook will be unable to tolerate future river conditions and will all but vanish from California's landscape. (Yale 360

Water system reforms needed with or without climate change

While the timing of climate impacts may be uncertain, certainty is not required to justify stronger measures to manage the increasing risks of flood and drought. Sandy and the California drought make it clear that we are poorly equipped to handle such disasters in the current climate, let alone the future. Building climate considerations into public investments would mandate stronger measures to help California build a sustainable water supply system that meets multiple, competing needs. (LA Times)

Second year of cap and trade a success for California

According to a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund, emissions that are subject to cap and trade are declining, while the economy is thriving and jobs are increasing, especially in the green tech sector. Participation is healthy, but more importantly, California is working with Mexico, China, Peru, and other countries to share its experience. (LA Streets Blog)

Case Studies and Examples
Study reveals climate vulnerabilities in Midwestern agriculture and industry

Risky Business - the initiative examining economic risks from climate change - has released a report focusing on climate risks to agriculture and other industries in the Midwest. The report finds that rising temperatures (to Arizona-like conditions) will likely cause shifts in planting patterns, rising energy and health costs, and lost worker productivity in sectors such as transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture. Meanwhile, warmer winters could reduce winter tourism in the northern region. Annual crop losses could range 18 to 24 percent over the next 5 to 25 years, to as high as 69 percent by the end of the century. (Report)

More states and locals take resiliency seriously
Photo: AP


The Pew Center reports on efforts from states and cities to plan for and implement projects that improve resiliency. Examples include the Washington Department of Transportation's directive for projects to factor in climate change, a Hawaii law requiring state and local officials to consider climate-change impacts in state and county planning, and city efforts to upgrade stormwater systems and reduce runoff. (Pew Center)

Upcoming Events
Quarterly Meeting - Health Care and Climate Change

Tuesday, February 24, 1-5pm

SMUD Headquarters Conference Center, 6201 S Street, Sacramento

The Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative is pleased to invite you to its first Quarterly Meeting of 2015, featuring an in-depth exploration of the health care system in the context of climate change. A panel of health care experts will highlight climate impacts on public health and the steps that our regional health systems are taking to respond to and prepare for these impacts. The meeting will also feature numerous other presentations and discussions relevant to sustaining and enhancing our region's resiliency efforts. Space is limited - please register if you plan to attend. (Register)

Webinar Series: Planning for Climate Change

Local governments have an integral role in addressing climate change. In this webinar series put together by the University of Illinois Extension, a diverse group of environmental policy experts will explore approaches to generate revenue by reducing emissions; incorporate successful policies and programs into sustainability plans; implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures; and utilize green infrastructure to ensure healthy ecosystems and safe communities. The webinar series starts January and runs monthly through April. (Univ. of Illinois)

2015 Climate Leadership Conference

Feb 23-25, Washington, DC

Join leaders from business, government, academia, and nonprofits as they share best practices to address climate change through policy and business solutions. Addressing infrastructure and resilience is one of the conference themes, with events focusing on identifying climate risks and increasing resilience. (CLC)

2015 National Adaptation Forum
May 12-14, 2015, St. Louis, Missouri

The National Adaptation Forum is the biennial gathering of the adaptation community to foster information exchange, innovation, and mutual support. At the Forum, participants learn how to make their work climate-informed, share what they have learned with others, and develop a stronger network of collaborative peers. The 2015 program focuses on integrating adaptation into all activities and breaking out of silos to create holistic, durable solutions. Early bird registration ends Feb. 28, 2015. (Register)

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 serve, visit: