Water Resources and Climate Change

The topic of water touches everything in California, and the impacts of climate change on water resources are diverse. Effects may include increase in flooding, impacts on hydroelectric power generation, changes to water quality, changes in water availability for agricultural and urban uses, and impacts on aquatic habitats. The following points to some of the key references on climate change and water resources in California, though the topic is too large for it to be comprehensive.

The California Department of Water Resources maintains a website describing the Department's activities relating to water management and climate change. Resources of particular interest on that site include a report on climate change adaptation and water management, a handbook on climate change for regional water planning, and a page compiling recent news and publications on climate change of interest to water managers in California and beyond.

A number of studies have analyzed the possible hydrologic response to climate change in California. Miller, Bashford, and Strem 2003 examine two GCM scenarios, one warm and wet, and the other relatively cool and dry, with respect to hydrologic response. Null, Viers, and Mount 2010 use a rainfall-runoff model to look at the response to climate warming of individual watersheds in the Sierra Nevada. Das et al. 2011 use downscaled precipitation and temperature projections under three GCMs to look at flood risk to the western edges of the Sierra Nevada.

In terms of management policy, Hanak and Lund 2012 give an good overview of water management and policy options for California under climate change. A couple studies ( Connell-Buck et al. 2011 and Medellín-Azuara et al. 2008) use engineering-economic optimization modeling to look at water demand in California under different climate futures. And Madani and Lund 2010 examine the potential impacts of climate warming on hydropower generation.

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