Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
February 25, 2015
A biweekly newsletter of the Climate Readiness Collaborative.


While farmers are used to thinking about clouds and rainfall, another kind of cloud could soon help agriculture improve its resiliency. Scientists and engineers are exploring new technology that will allow farmers to use cloud-based computing, drones, real-time data, modeling and more to respond to changing conditions. These innovations aim to make farming more efficient in the use of water and other resources, and could be instrumental in helping California agriculture maintain its productivity in the face of droughts, heat waves, and other weather extremes.   

News and Research
Climate change increases risk of 30-year-plus droughts for the U.S.

A new NASA study finds that droughts in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains could be more

Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP/File

severe and longer than drought conditions in the past 1,000 years. The current likelihood of a megadrought that lasts over three decades is 12 percent, but would increase to 60 percent if GHG emissions began declining in 2050, and 80 percent from 2050 to 2099 if GHG emissions continue increasing along their present trajectories. Additional water stresses come from declining aquifers, growing population, and increased evaporation and evapotranspiration. The study is more robust than previous drought studies, as it is examines 17 state-of-the-art climate models, multiple drought indicators, and reconstructions of historical drought based on 1000 years of tree-ring data. (Christian Science Monitor, NASA)

Grape growers turn to drones to help sustain traditional wine regions

While in the long run climate change will force vineyards to shift to new regions, traditional wine-growing regions are working to address climate impacts in the next few decades. Growers in Australia and California are starting to use aerial drones for close monitoring and analysis in order to target irrigation and fertilizer to vines that are suffering most in a drought or a heat wave. Grapes are particularly sensitive to heat, drought, and other extremes; by 2050, 85 percent of wine production may leave regions like Tuscany. But new technology and practices can help traditional wine-growing regions extend their lifespan by 10-15 years. (Link)

Early warnings for extreme weather critical for warming world

Improved forecasting can save lives and avoid property damage, agricultural and economic losses, and even social unrest. Long-range forecasts have wider margins of error, so scientists are improving medium-range forecasts that predict high-impact events one to two weeks in advance. New tools and technologies include supercomputers crunching powerful algorithms, 7- to 14-day heat wave and gale predictions, more dense data grids for high-resolution models, and better accounting for uncertainty. In particular, an ongoing study of atmospheric rivers will be especially important for California, as atmospheric river days are expected to increase from 25 to 65 by the end of the century. (Yale 360)

How big data can boost efficiency and productivity in agriculture

Photo: Getty Images- John Moore

Through data modeling and analytical tools, one company is using technology to help farmers respond to uncertainty in changing weather patterns. Founded by former Google engineers, the company produces hyper-local climate forecasts for individual farms, using satellite imaging, growth modeling, and simulations. The tool can help farmers target fertilizer application, switch crops based on climate data, and shift growing cycles. Another start-up helps Californian farmers weather the drought by providing minute readings of soil moisture, humidity, and more to target irrigation. (CNN)

Adaptation for agriculture requires major transformations in the face of uncertainty

Climate change will require major transformations in agricultural systems, but without careful planning for uncertain climate impacts, the chances of getting adaptation wrong are high, according to a new global analysis covering 9 different climate scenarios, 18 crops, and 4 crop management systems. The study specifically examines adaptations that are investment-intensive and not easily reversible, such as building new water management infrastructure for irrigation, or increases and decreases to the production capacity of a region. By combining climate and yield projections with models of land use, trade, consumption, water resources, and other factors, the researchers identified the likely needed adaptations and transformations - for example, increases in irrigation over 25% may be required in large parts of the world. (

Japanese tech companies turn expertise to help farmers

Companies like Panasonic, Fujitsu, and Toshiba are turning their expertise in energy-saving devices

Photo: Sophie Knight, Reuters

and cloud technology to farming, which in Japan is suffering from changing weather patterns and an aging labor force. Unusually hot summers plus high energy costs mean that farmers need innovative solutions: for example, while the typical greenhouse is designed for creating warmer temperatures, Panasonic's passive, low-energy greenhouse will provide steady temperatures and humidity even when it's hot out. (ABS)

Why water-stressed fruits may be better for you

While farmers face the challenge of California's severe drought, preliminary research suggests low-water conditions may even enhance fruit's nutritional value. Despite being smaller and less attractive, water-stressed pomegranates and grapes have the same level of nutrients, while those grown with greater minerals - mimicking the drier Central Valley soils - had double the amount of antioxidants. This could help encourage more water-saving farming practices. (Cap Radio)

Resources and Tools
New MomentUs program will inspire health professionals to lead on climate change

MomentUs, an initiative focused on public engagement on climate change, has launched Climate for Health to inspire and empower health leaders to help the public prepare for the health risks of climate change, and to empower them to take action as part of their ongoing work. The program provides resources, including toolkits, ideas, and networking opportunities, to help health professionals engage their patients, staff, and communities on climate action. (Climate for Health)

100 case studies on climate change resilience for roads, airports, and transit

Released by the Georgetown Climate Center, the case studies highlight innovative approaches being taken around the US to protect transportation infrastructure and transit systems from climate change. The goal is to help transportation officials at all steps of the decision-making process, from planning, design, constructions, operations, and maintenance. Examples include renovating a runway at New York's JFK Airport with concrete instead of asphalt to increase its lifespan and heat vulnerability, and adding a stormwater trench to help the airport deal with storm events. The case studies will also be part of the Federal Highway Administration's Virtual Framework for Vulnerability Assessment, which aims to support transportation managers in conducting vulnerability assessments of transportation assets.  (GCC press release & case studies)

Virtual Climate Toolkit: EPA releases Stormwater Climate Change Tool

As part of President Obama's Climate Resilience Toolkit, the EPA is releasing the Climate Adjustment Tool for its Stormwater Management Model, a widely used, downloadable online stormwater simulation model. The Climate Adjustment Tool allows engineers and planners to evaluate the performance of water infrastructure under future climate change scenarios, accounting for factors such as more frequent high-intensity storms. The tool can also model green infrastructure, such as permeable pavements, rain gardens, and green roofs. (Climate Adjustment Tool; see also the entire Climate Resilience Toolkit and the Stormwater Calculator, which is designed for individual sites). 

Funding Opportunities
U.S. Department of Interior announces funding for tribal resiliency

Native communities can apply for a pool of $8 million to help them with climate adaptation planning and ocean and coastal management planning. This builds on $2.3 million that the Department awarded last year to over 40 tribes and organizations for climate resilience. At least a dozen Native villages in Alaska have voted to relocate because of the effects of climate change, and more than 200 are already experiencing negative effects. (DoI)

Department of Energy: Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC)

Part of the SunShot Initiative, SPARC will help spur solar development by local governments through establishing a national recognition and technical assistance program. Selected local communities can earn recognition for their achievements and leadership, supporting local markets, while the technical assistance component will help communities reduce soft costs and market barriers and establish consistency in solar practices across the country. The winners will also join a peer network of leading communities. Concept paper due March 5, 2015. (DoE)

Upcoming Events
Webinar: The Economic Impacts of Severe Weather

Thursday, March 5, 11am-noon PDT

Provided by REMI, an economic analysis organization, the webinar will examine the potential impact of severe weather at the local and state level. Although there are negative consequences, storm preparations and recovery can stimulate spending. They will use economic modeling tools to weigh the gains and losses, and determine the long-term impacts and how regions can respond. (Register)

Taking a Regional Approach to Climate Action: Lessons from the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact

Wed., March 11, 11am-noon PDT

One of the oldest climate collaboratives, the Southeast Florida Climate Compact has enabled its four member counties to coordinate legislative advocacy at the state and federal levels, develop and use unified sea level projections, build consensus around a Regional Climate Action Plan, and leverage a host of resources around a locally driven climate change agenda. Together, they have pursued innovative approaches like the designation of Adaptation Action Areas. In this webinar, you'll learn more about the Southeast Florida Climate Compact - how it's structured, the progress they've made to date, and key lessons learned from several key participants in the process. (Register)

Early Bird Registration Now Open: 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: