Our all-out effort to reverse climate change is under way — yet wisdom tells us to be prepared for its impacts. Where is California most vulnerable to rising seas, melting snows, climbing temperatures, and other effects of a warming planet? Every region, every town must assess the risks and make plans to adapt. A mighty research effort will furnish the tools.
Today, CIEE managed an expansive study of California’s vulnerability to climate change, funded by the California Energy Commission and involving 22 principal investigators at seven UC campuses and other institutions. What do rising sea levels mean for coastal planning and operation of the major airports, industry, and communities situated on California’s shore? With the vital Sierra snowpack shrinking, can California ensure ample water for homes and for its world-leading agriculture and wine industries? And, as temperatures climb, where is California most at risk for devastating wildfires or public-health threats to our most vulnerable citizens? The study is pinpointing serious risks in these and a remarkable range of other areas.
The goal is to give planners, public-health officials, land-use managers, and others the research-backed basis they need to develop strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change. California legislation now requires communities to consider these impacts in planning, but they need better tools to do it. CIEE-managed work is developing technologies for the next iteration of CalAdapt, the state’s web-based modeling tool. The results will extend modeling capabilities down to a regional scale, zeroing in on the precise data people need to make sound local decisions.