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Updated 11 October, 2003

US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Region:  California


For additional information, see the Western Mega-Region

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Links to Material from the California Assessment Group

Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.

The Workshop

A workshop was held in Santa Barbara, March 9-11, 1998 as part of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. This series of workshops is seen as a first step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change. The purpose of the workshop was to engage in discussions on the possible consequences of climate change in the state. The larger objective of the workshop was to create a process through which scientists, decision-makers, and stakeholders in California can identify areas of concern and opportunity resulting from climate variability and change. The workshop explored what scientists presently understand about global warming and climate change, and sought to apply that knowledge to specific concerns in the California region. Stakeholders were asked to assess potential impacts on the state-such as critical water supplies to agricultural lands, coastal urban centers, and the environment-to establish adaptation strategies and research priorities.

Issues for Analysis

The California regional assessment examines current stresses and potential impacts of climate change and variability on the state with special focus on the following sectors: water systems (extensive discussion of systems and potential changes); natural resource and ecological systems (including biodiversity, nature's services, and ecosystem functions); economic, infrastructure, and social systems (including impacts on the built environment and key economic sectors); and implications for human health. The regional assessment also includes a review of climate science and the USGCRP process, the California economy and natural environment, and other elements. Coping and adaptation strategies, and further research priorities, are also included.

Strategy for the Assessment

The California assessment involves a diverse set of stakeholders who are contributing to an improved understanding of potential impacts of climate change and variability. Scientists, professional associations, businesses, resource managers, state and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, and elected decision-makers are now actively involved in discussions of the potential implications of climate change in the region. Several million dollars per year is being budgeted for climate change research in California through state funds. The strategy for the assessment is to facilitate and support this effort in order to provide the basis for continued prosperity and restoration of environmental systems through coping and adaptation strategies that build resilience in critical systems. The Assessment Report is expected during 2002.

Principal Investigator Robert Wilkinson, University of California, Santa Barbara
Coordinating Federal Agency National Science Foundation
Agency Representative Tom Spence, National Science Foundation
Additional Involvement The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa Barbara
Key Issues
  • Urban System Impacts
  • Water Systems
  • Coastal Impacts
  • Agriculture
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystems
  • Fire
  • Sea Level Rise

Workshop Steering Committee

  • Jeff Dozier, University of California - Santa Barbara
  • Richard Berk, University of California - Los Angeles
  • Dan Cayan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD)
  • Frank Davis, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
  • Nicholas Graham, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD)
  • Peter Gleick, The Pacific Institute
  • Charles Kolstad, University of California - Santa Barbara
  • Jim McWilliams, University of California - Los Angeles
  • John Melack, University of California - Santa Barbara
  • Harold A. Mooney, Stanford University
  • Peter Moyle, University of California - Davis
  • Walter C. Oechel, San Diego State University
  • Claude Poncelet, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  • Thomas Suchanek, Western Region NIGEC / University of California - Davis
  • Henry Vaux, University of California
  • Douglas Wheeler, Secretary of Resources, State of California

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