Emerging Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Resources A Perspective on Transformed Watersheds

This review focuses first on types of socioeconomic and biotic adaptations. Many individuals, public agencies, and nongovernmental organizations are discovering ways to protect biodiversity and sustain natural ecological processes. Five case studies are highlighted to illustrate some of these alternative adaptive responses to climatic changes at local and regional scales. These approaches could be modified for use in other locations. However, most studies have evaluated uncertainties in the quantities of water supplies over relatively short periods during or immediately after a specific drought event, with limited analyses of water quality. These studies have usually focused at the scale of a single watershed or at a hierarchy of locally nested watersheds. More long‐term, spatially integrated research at regional, trans‐regional, or continental scales is needed to address the impacts of extreme climate variability on ecosystems and water supplies.

The Impacts of Sea Level Rise on the California Coast

Over the past century, sea level has risen nearly eight inches along the California coast, and general circulation model scenarios suggest very substantial increases in sea level as a significant impact of climate change over the coming century. This study includes a detailed analysis of the current population, infrastructure, and property at risk from projected sea‐level rise if no actions are taken to protect the coast. The sea‐level rise scenario was developed by the State of California from medium to high greenhouse gas emissions scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) but does not reflect the worst‐case sea‐level rise that could occur. We also evaluate the cost of building structural measures to reduce that risk. If development continues in the areas at risk, all of these estimates will rise. No matter what policies are implemented in the future, sea‐level rise will inevitably change the character of the California coast.Large sections of the Pacific coast are not vulnerable to flooding, but are highly susceptible to erosion. We estimate that a 1.4 meter sea‐level rise will accelerate erosion, resulting in a loss of 41 square miles (over 26,000 acres) of California’s coast by 2100. A total of 14,000 people currently live in the area at risk of future erosion. Additionally, significant transportationrelated infrastructure and property are vulnerable to erosion. Statewide flood risk exceeds erosion risk, but in some counties and localities, coastal erosion poses a greater risk. This report also provides a comprehensive set of recommendations and strategies for adapting to sea level rise.

Part I: Existing Conditions Report of the District’s Watershed Management Plan

This document represents the most current information available to the District about the natural and historic conditions of watershed property in the context of the San Lorenzo River watershed.

Part I: Existing Conditions Report will serve as a reference to aid the District in refining its watershed management goals and updating its watershed planning policies and practices. It will also serve as a baseline for tracking the success of approved policies and future projects.

The Future is Now: An Update on Climate Change Science Impacts and Response Options for California

This report presents an interim summary of the latest in climate change science and outlines recommended response options for decision makers in California. This document contains four key messages:

  1. Observed changes in temperature, sea level, precipitation regime, fire frequency, and agricultural and ecological systems reveal that California is already experiencing the measurable effects of climate change.
  2. Scientific confidence in attributing climate change to human activities has increased since the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which was recently made available by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  3. New scientific studies suggest that the climatic and hydrologic changes already experienced in California are due to human activity.
  4. Unmitigated climate change will lead to grave consequences for California’s economy and ecosystems. Furthermore, it appears that even a scenario that drastically curtails emissions of greenhouse gases may still lead to undesirable trends in warming and sea‐level rise.

A rapid two‐pronged response to climate that which encompasses both mitigation and adaptation has the potential to promote innovative invesment by businesses and protect environmental quality while increasing community preparedness and capacity to cope with change. Conversely, a path of inaction exposes a community’s vulnerability to climate variability and is ultimately costly.

San Lorenzo Valley Water District Water Supply Master Plan

This Water Supply Master Plan for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD or District), Santa Cruz County, California, achieves the following:

  • Documents the District’s conjunctive use of diverted streamflow and pumped groundwater on a monthly basis for 1984-2008, where conjunctive is broadly defined as the optimized, sustainable use of multiple sources of water throughout annual and long-term climatic cycles.
  • Evaluates the production potential of its available water resources as defined by climate, watershed hydrology, aquifer hydrogeology, water quality, water rights, and infrastructure (i.e., water collection, treatment, storage, and conveyance).
  • Demonstrates alternatives for sustainably supplying monthly water demand projected for 2030 and a repeat of the 1984-2008 climatic cycle.

On the basis of this analysis, recommends: 

  • Implementation of an intertie between the northern and southern service areas.
  • Exercising its entitlement to a portion of the yield of Loch Lomond reservoir.
  • Technically supports subsequent District efforts regarding planning, environmental assessment, design, and project implementation.

Navigating the Waters of Change: Strengthening the Capacity of NWT Communities to Respond to the Impacts of Climate Change on Municipal Water and Wastewater Systems

The Western Canadian Arctic has experienced some of the most rapid and intense climate changes on Earth, with global climate models predicting that average surface temperatures may increase by 4-7°C by the 2080s. Global Climate Models project a 15-30% increase in precipitation in the Western Arctic by the 2080s; however, projected precipitation changes are quite variable across regions. Changes in precipitation and temperature, and their impacts on ecosystem processes, will affect many facets of life in the NWT, including how communities manage water and wastewater.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a preliminary assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on water and wastewater systems in the NWT, and recommend actions to increase the capacity of communities to respond and adapt to changes. Information in this paper was collected through interviews with individuals working in water and wastewater management in the NWT, and through review of scientific studies on this subject. 

Jemez Mountains Climate Change Adaptation Workshop: Process, Outcomes and Next Steps

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) convened a two-day workshop on climate change adaptation in the Jemez Mountains on April 21-22, 2009 in Los Alamos, New Mexico. More than 50 representatives of state and federal agencies, tribal governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated.

The Jemez Mountains Climate Change Adaptation Workshop was the first in a series of four to be organized by the Southwest Climate Change Initiative (SWCCI), a project of TNC and collaborators from the Wildlife Conservation Society, USDA Forest Service, University of Arizona and University of Washington. The goal of the SWCCI is to provide information and tools for climate change adaptation planning and implementation to conservation practitioners in the Four Corners states: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The workshop goal was to help resource managers develop strategies for helping species and ecosystems adapt to climate change, and to enhance cross-boundary collaboration using new tools and the best available climate change science. The objectives of the workshop were:

  1. Provide background information on climate change and its effects in the one million-acre Jemez Mountains landscape;
  2. Assess the effects of climate change on key species, ecosystems and ecological processes;
  3. Using a new adaptation planning framework, identify management actions to reduce climate change impacts;
  4. Identify opportunities for learning, collaboration and application of the adaptation planning process for natural resource management in the Jemez Mountains.

Over the course of two days, managers, scientists and conservation practitioners worked together to identify adaptation strategies under two climate change scenarios – one moderate, and one more extreme.

Following the workshop, representatives of the Santa Fe National Forest, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Jemez Pueblo, NM Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute and TNC resolved to work together to develop an ecological restoration strategy for a 210,000-acre mixed-ownership landscape in the southwestern Jemez Mountains.

Finally, the work of the Southwest Climate Change Initiative continues. In December 2009, a second climate change adaptation workshop was held for Colorado’s Gunnison Basin (see http://www.nmconservation.org/projects/new_mexico_climate_change for products) , and a third is scheduled for April 2010 for the forests of northern Arizona. A fourth workshop will be held in Utah in mid-2010.

Preparing for Climate Change in the Upper Willamette River Basin of Western Oregon

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reached a consensus in 2007 that the evidence is now “unequivocal” that the earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming and concluded that these changes primarily are due to human activities (IPCC, 2007a). While reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions is vital to stabilize the climate in the long term, excess emissions already concentrated in the atmosphere will produce significant changes in the global climate now and throughout the next century. These changes are expected to transform natural systems and pose new stresses on native species in the Upper Willamette River Basin. Changes in the climate and in the Basin’s natural systems will, in turn, modify the way the local economy functions and produce new stresses on infrastructure and buildings, human health, and the quality of life of the people who live in and enjoy the Upper Willamette River Basin.

Numerous initiatives already underway will help prepare the Basin’s communities, economy, and landscapes for these effects. However, few initiatives focus on the actions needed to prepare explicitly for climate change. Expanding existing activities, launching the additional climate preparation efforts described in this report, and continuing to develop new strategies in an integrated and co-beneficial manner can help build resistance and resilience to climate change across multiple sectors in the Upper Willamette River Basin and enable the region to thrive over the coming century. 

In the fall of 2008, the University of Oregon’s Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) and the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy (NCCSP), in partnership with the Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil-System (MAPSS) Team at the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, initiated a project to assess the likely consequences of climate change for the Upper Willamette River Basin. The Basin is defined as the region from the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers south and east to the headwaters of the South Fork Willamette, Middle Fork Willamette, and McKenzie rivers. This report outlines a framework for climate preparation activities in the Basin, but specific details, locations and issues will need to be addressed by community leaders, resource managers, business leaders, scientists, and other groups. 

Preparing for Coastal Change: A Guide for Local Government in New Zealand

Much of New Zealand’s urban development and infrastructure is located in coastal areas, some of which are vulnerable to coastal hazards such as coastal erosion and inundation. In recent years, coastal development and associated infrastructure have intensified, and property values have increased. As development increases, the potential impacts and consequences of coastal hazards also increase. Managing this growing risk now presents a significant challenge for planning authorities in New Zealand.

Preparing for coastal change provides information to help local government and others across New Zealand strengthen the integration of coastal hazards and climate change considerations into policy, planning, asset management and decision-making.

Climate change effects are gradual, but have implications for many land-use planning decisions. They have long-term implications because of the long lifetime of structures (eg, buildings, roads, network utilities, residential developments). Considering climate change is not only a requirement of the Resource Management Act 1991, it is also wise and good business practice.

The guide comprises three parts:

Part One – The changing climate:

• discusses how climate change affects sea level

• provides guidance on planning for future sea-level rise in New Zealand

• explains the impacts of climate change on other physical drivers that influence coastal hazards such as high tides, storms, storm surge and storm tides, wave climate and sediment supply to the coast.

Part Two – Implications for New Zealand’s coastal margins:

• outlines some implications of climate change for the risk of coastal inundation and coastal erosion

• recommends how to assess these effects

•outlines the implications for salinization of surface freshwaters and groundwater covers, coastal defences and inundation by tsunami

Part Three – Responding to climate change:

• covers the legislative context

• suggests mechanisms for managing, avoiding and reducing coastal hazard risks

• deals with managing residual risk and monitoring change

• discusses some challenges in reducing coastal hazard risk 

The New Hampshire Climate Action Plan: A Plan for New Hampshire’s Energy, Environmental and Economic Development Future

New Hampshire’s Climate Action Plan presents an opportunity to:

  • Spur economic growth through investment in our own state’s economy of monies currently spent on energy imports.
  • Create jobs and economic growth through development of in-state sources of energy from renewable and low emitting resources, and green technology development and deployment by New Hampshire businesses.
  • Avoid the significant costs of responding to a changing climate on the state’s infrastructure, economy, and the health of our citizens.