Inland Deserts Region Report

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Remotely hosted on free website
Hopkins, Francesca M.

The Inland Deserts region is the hottest and driest region of California, with a desert climate that varies primarily due to elevation. The region’s climate is becoming more extreme, with daily average high temperatures projected to increase by 8-14ºF by the end of century. Rainfall rates are currently low (approximately 5 inches per year) and highly variable from year to year. This variability is projected to increase over the coming decades, with extreme drought and extreme wet events both becoming more common. In turn, increasing frequencies of these extreme events will increase the risk of flash flooding and wildfire, given the close relationship between precipitation variability and growth of invasive grasses that serve as the major fuel for wildfire in the region.

A general summary of climate risks facing the California’s Inland Deserts region include:

• Extremely high maximum temperatures are expected to occur in the Inland Deserts.
• The fate of the Salton Sea is a critical determinant of future environmental quality.
• Renewable energy development will have big impacts on the economy and infrastructure.
• Continuing current land use/development patterns (i.e., housing development in the region to compensate for lack of development on the coast) will require increased energy for cooling to compensate for a rise in extremely high temperatures.
• Higher temperatures will exacerbate water stress in an already very water-limited region.
• Changing water availability is a key determinant of the future for ecological and agricultural systems.
• Population in the Inland Deserts is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
• Tourism is a major economic driver that is likely to be threatened by a changing climate.
• The fate of the Salton Sea is a critical determinant of future environmental quality.


Hopkins, Francesca M. 2018. “Inland Deserts Region Report.” SUM-CCCA4-2018-008. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. Sacramento, CA: California Governer’s Office of Planning and Research, California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Energy Commission.