Climate warming and water management adaptation for California

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Tanaka, Stacy, Zhu, Tingju, Lund, Jay, Howitt, Richard, Jenkins, Marion, Pulido, Manuel, Tauber, Mélanie, Ritzema, Randall, and Ferreira, Inês
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The ability of California's water supply system to adapt to long-term climatic and demographic changes is examined. Two climate warming and a historical climate scenario are examined with population and land use estimates for the year 2100 using a statewide economic-engineering optimization model of water supply management. Methodologically, the results of this analysis indicate that for long-term climate change studies of complex systems, there is considerable value in including other major changes expected during a long-term time-frame (such as population changes), allowing the system to adapt to changes in conditions (a common feature of human societies), and representing the system in sufficient hydrologic and operational detail and breadth to allow significant adaptation. While the policy results of this study are preliminary, they point to a considerable engineering and economic ability of complex, diverse, and inter-tied systems to adapt to significant changes in climate and population. More specifically, California's water supply system appears physically capable of adapting to significant changes in climate and population, albeit at a significant cost. Such adaptation would entail large changes in the operation of California's large groundwater storage capacity, significant transfers of water among water users, and some adoption of new technologies.


Tanaka, S., T. Zhu, J. Lund, R. Howitt, M. Jenkins, M. Pulido, M. Tauber, R. Ritzema, and I. Ferreira. 2006. Climate warming and water management adaptation for California. Climatic Change 76:361–387. doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9079-5.