Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
March 11, 2015
A biweekly newsletter of the Climate Readiness Collaborative.


Climate change is anything but just: while New England is pummeled by snowstorm after snowstorm, with snowdrifts piling up to man-height, Californians are agonizing over one of the driest winters on record and snow packs that stand at a paltry 19 percent of average levels. One month still remains in the water year, but the outlook is for a fourth year of drought. What wouldn't Californians give for a good snowstorm like the ones that have recently pummeled New England? 

News and Research
California enters fourth year of drought but urban conservation declines
Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

In January Californians reduced water use by 8.8%, much lower than the 22% reduction achieved in December 2014. Residents were able to skip lawn watering in December, which had two large storms, but resumed in one of the hottest and driest Januaries on record. On March 17 the State Water Board will meet to consider tougher water restrictions, such as requiring all restaurants to refrain from serving water unless customers ask, and all hotels to tell guests that they can choose to not have their linen changed every day. Critics say these measures are far too weak, and the Water Board should instead incentivize people to replace old, inefficient appliances with more water-efficient models, or to remove their lawns, which are responsible for up to 50% of water use in communities. Meanwhile, this year the State Water Project will not be delivering water to the majority of Central Valley farmers, who will likely fallow fields, pump groundwater more deeply further deplete groundwater. (Mercury News)

Climate change and California drought relationship explored in a new study

Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP

A new Stanford study finds that climate change has made it more likely that hot and dry conditions - which are associated with severe droughts

in California - will occur simultaneously. The study also projected that this trend of hot, dry weather conditions will continue. Other studies have concluded that climate change did not cause - but is exacerbating - the current drought. (USA Today

New program focuses on restoring California's primary watershed

The Sierra Nevada Region is the source of more than 60 percent of the state's water supply, providing drinking water for more than 23 million people. To address the considerable climate risks to this valuable resource, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service is launching the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program (WIP) to restore watershed health through increased investment and needed policy changes. Key activities will focus on restoring streams and meadows, preserving working landscapes, restoring forest health, and improving socio-economic conditions. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the Forest Service are organizing a multi-state/federal/local agency effort to work with regional stakeholders, as well as those outside the region, to develop and implement the WIP. (WIP)

Extreme weather can't change minds on climate change

Photo: Mike Groll / Associated Press

Extreme weather anomalies do little to convince most people that climate change is real; rather, political ideology is the dominant predictor of opinions on climate change. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, undermines the common assumption that people will alter their views on anthropogenic climate change when they see daily, local changes in their lives. These results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that political ideology interferes with how we assess science. (LA Times)

Extensive changes to timing of leaf activity has wider consequences

A new study found that changes in temperature, rainfall, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations have already led to extensive changes to leaf phenology - the timing of leaf emergence, growth, and death - around the world. Through satellite images, researchers found that leaf phenology has changed on 95% of the Earth's land mass, with 54% changing substantially. This could lead to higher extinction rates for species dependent on leaf phenology. In the northern hemisphere, birds and pollinator species have suffered population losses due to the seasons moving out of sync with their lifecycles. These changes can have further impact on ecosystem stability and functioning, the carbon-energy exchange between the land and the atmosphere, and agriculture. (Link)

A molecular barrier to reduce water evaporation from reservoirs
Photo: Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group

Worldwide, more water evaporates from reservoirs than is consumed, and losses are especially high in hot, dry regions. Researchers are considering reducing evaporation losses using a thin barrier of cheap, non-toxic, biodegradable chemicals just one molecule thick. Initial field tests showed reductions in evaporation of 15% but one company estimates that a 70% reduction in losses can be achieved. Their pilot test will be near Palo Alto this summer, and the company plans to offer its services in exchange for ownership of the water it saves. (Nature

Resources and Tools
Climate Change Indicators: An annotated bibliography with an emphasis on California

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment monitors scientific research and publications on climate change and has created this annotated bibliography for the public. The bibliography covers research published from 2010 to 2013, with some major reports from 2014. Topics relevant to Sacramento include atmospheric rivers, methane emissions from rice cultivation, urban heat islands, heat waves, snowmelt and snow pack changes, agriculture, urban sprawl, wildfires, and more. (OEHHA)  

New financial center to improve local water infrastructure and resiliency

EPA launched the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center to help communities improve their wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater systems, particularly through innovative financial practices and building resilience to climate change. Modernizing water infrastructure helps to protect drinking water, reduce flooding, and reduce wastewater overflows and discharges, saving money and reducing pollution. The center will explore ways to increase financing for climate-resilient water infrastructure projects through integrating water and energy efficiency, water reuse, and green infrastructure; supporting communities to develop sustainable sources of funding for water infrastructure; public-private partnerships; and collaborating with the USDA to support small communities. (EPA)  

Cascading failures: Earthquake threats to transportation utilities

What happens when a single failure triggers cascading impacts across multiple inter-dependent systems, sectors, and processes? This report examines vulnerabilities of Bay Area's airports, passenger rail, roadways, fuel, electric system, and water system in the event of an earthquake. While the focus is on seismic failure, the approach is applicable to other hazards and systems. (ABAG)

Funding Opportunities
EPA: Environmental Finance Center Application

The EPA is seeking applications from organizations to serve as regional Environmental Finance Centers (EFCs) that provide multi-media environmental finance expertise and outreach to regulated communities. The EFCs will provide finance-related training, technical assistance, finance studies, and other analytical support to help regulated parties develop sustainable solutions to the critical "how to pay" question. Some examples of relevant services include: providing computer-based and other financial and outreach tools to help communities more effectively manage watersheds and water systems; improving drinking water and wastewater utility water conservation, energy efficiency, and capital planning; and supporting environmentally and fiscally sustainable environmental infrastructure, including the resiliency of that infrastructure. Deadline: April 30, 2015. (EPA)

Cap and Trade: Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP)

The SALCP will reduce GHG emissions by ensuring the long-term protection of critical agricultural lands from development and conversion. Conserving agricultural lands will help to sequester GHG emissions, help to promote smart growth and limit sprawl, reduce VMT, and support the local agricultural economy. The Sustainable Agricultural Land Strategy Plans provide short-term grants to inventory the most highly productive and vulnerable agricultural land, and develop strategies for their long-term protection. Applications are due March 20, 2015. (Link)

Upcoming Events
Webinar: How CivicSpark can help your agency

March 19 or April 2, 11am-noon PT

CivicSpark is a Governor's Initiative of AmeriCorps that aims to build capacity for local governments to address climate change. In its first year, CivicSpark has assisted over 86 local government agencies on climate mitigation and adaptation projects on topics such as sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, solar procurement, urban forestry, and GHG inventorying and benchmarking. The 2015-2016 service year will start in October 2015. Please attend the webinar if you are interested in learning about how CivicSpark can help your government agency. (Register: March 19 or April 2). 

Speaker Event: Climate Change and California's Future

Mon., March 23, noon to 1:30pm

Sheraton Grand Sacramento, 1230 J St. 

With California on track to achieve its 2020 climate goals, Governor Brown has set his sights even higher. What will it take to ensure that half of the state's energy comes from renewable sources and increase efficiency for cars and buildings - all by 2035? A panel of state and local experts will discuss the challenges and potential impact of these policies. The event is free but space is limited. (Register)

Human Health in the Face of Climate Change: Science, Medicine, and Adaptation
Abstracts and fellowship application due March 18, 2015

This multidisciplinary conference (May 14-15, 2015, Barcelona) will bring together climate scientists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists, epidemiologists, public health specialists, and policy makers to highlight the latest research on climate change and its effects on human health. Themes include climate information for better preparedness, using science to protect vulnerable populations, food and nutrition security, translating science into better preparedness, and shifts in infectious diseases. Call for abstracts and travel fellowship application deadline is March 18, 2015. (NYAS)

Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference

Call for proposals due April 1

This conference is focused on understanding human and organizational behavior and decision making to accelerate the transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon future. The goal is to use behavioral research to increase energy savings and climate action. The conference welcomes abstract proposals for panels, posters, and presentations. (BECC)

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: