California climate change, hydrologic response, and flood forecasting

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There is strong evidence that the lower atmosphere has been warming at an unprecedented rate during the last 50 years, and it is expected to further increase at least for the next 100 years. Warmer air mass implies a higher capacity to hold water vapor and an increased likelihood of an acceleration of the global water cycle. This acceleration is not validated and considerable new research has gone into understanding aspects of the water cycle (e.g. Miller et al. 2003). Several significant findings on the hydrologic response to climate change can be reported. It is well understood that the observed ... continued below

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11 pages

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Miller, Norman L. November 11, 2003.

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Description

There is strong evidence that the lower atmosphere has been warming at an unprecedented rate during the last 50 years, and it is expected to further increase at least for the next 100 years. Warmer air mass implies a higher capacity to hold water vapor and an increased likelihood of an acceleration of the global water cycle. This acceleration is not validated and considerable new research has gone into understanding aspects of the water cycle (e.g. Miller et al. 2003). Several significant findings on the hydrologic response to climate change can be reported. It is well understood that the observed and expected warming is related to sea level rise. In a recent seminar at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, James Hansen (Director of the Institute for Space Studies, National Aeronautics and Space Administration) stressed that a 1.25 Wm{sup -2} increase in radiative forcing will lead to an increase in the near surface air temperature by 1 C. This small increase in temperature from 2000 levels is enough to cause very significant impacts to coasts. Maury Roos (Chief Hydrologist, California Department of Water Resources) has shown that a 0.3 m rise in sea level shifts the San Francisco Bay 100-year storm surge flood event to a 10-year event. Related coastal protection costs for California based on sea level rise are shown. In addition to rising sea level, snowmelt-related streamflow represents a particular problem in California. Model studies have indicated that there will be approximately a 50% decrease in snow pack by 2100. This potential deficit must be fully recognized and plans need to be put in place well in advance. In addition, the warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor and result in more intense warm winter-time precipitation events that result in flooding. During anticipated high flow, reservoirs need to release water to maintain their structural integrity. California is at risk of water shortages, floods, and related ecosystem stresses. More research needs to be done to further improve our ability to forecast weather events at longer time scales. Seasonal predictions have been statistical and only recently have studies begun to use ensemble simulations and historical observations to constrain such predictions. Understanding the mechanisms of large-scale atmospheric dynamics and its local impacts remain topics of intensive research. The ability to predict extreme events and provide policy makers with this information, along with climate change and hydrologic response information, will help to guide planning to form a more resilient infrastructure in the future.

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11 pages

Notes

OSTI as DE00820274

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  • International Expert Meeting on Urban Flood Management, Rotterdam (NL), 11/20/2003--11/21/2003

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  • Report No.: LBNL--54041
  • Grant Number: AC03-76SF00098
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 820274
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc734373

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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Creation Date

  • November 11, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • April 4, 2016, 12:23 p.m.

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Miller, Norman L. California climate change, hydrologic response, and flood forecasting, article, November 11, 2003; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc734373/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.