climate change

California Energy needs and Air Quality hurt by Drought

By Emma Bailey

editor's note: Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood is now accepting articles from anyone with something important to say about California Water issues.

On November 8, 2014, Lake Oroville, the second largest man-made lake in California, plunged to a record low: 26 percent of capacity. Boaters were forced to rappel from dock parking lots to their listing motorboats far below. Just 46 more feet lost and the lake would be rendered impotent, unable to produce power. If all the remaining water in the similarly starved reservoirs of Lake Shasta, Trinity Lake, and Folsom Lake was to be poured into Oroville Lake, it would still only be 80 percent full.

Prior to 2011, California drew 18 percent of its in-state electricity generation from 287 hydropower plants, from impoundments, run-of river and pumped storage facilities. A small fraction of its hydropower was (and is) imported from the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest's Hoover Dam. This energy source (learn more here) would have been a great alternative to traditional sources, such as coal or natural gas.  READ MORE »

Only 11 trillion gallons more needed to break California drought

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) — around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir — to recover from California’s continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data. The finding was part of a sobering update on the state’s drought made possible by space and airborne measurements and presented by NASA scientists Dec. 16 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Such data are giving scientists an unprecedented ability to identify key features of droughts, data that can be used to inform water management decisions. A team of scientists led by Jay Famiglietti of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to develop the first-ever calculation of this kind — the volume of water required to end an episode of drought. Earlier this year, at the peak of California’s current three-year drought, the team found that water storage in the state’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 11 trillion gallons below normal seasonal levels. Data collected since the launch of GRACE in 2002 shows this deficit has increased steadily.  READ MORE »

Ocean upwelling off Pacific may be linked to global weather change

Petaluma, California, USA – An international team of scientists has shown that winds that cause coastal upwelling off the west coasts of North and South America and southern Africa have increased over the past 60 years, indicating a global pattern of change. The leader of the team, Dr. William J. Sydeman of the Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research (www.faralloninstitute.org), said, “We were amazed by the consistency of the wind trends found across the globe. This pattern suggests we have found an important general trend in winds, a response to climate change that is likely to have significant impacts on fisheries production and, more generally, the health of these coastal ocean environments.” Co-author Dr. David Schoeman of the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia commented, “This study is one of the first to statistically synthesize the literature on wind trends in these critical marine environments.” Drs. Schoeman and Sydeman were also contributing authors to the new chapter on ocean ecosystems (Chapter 30) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report. Dr. Schoeman notes, “In preparing sections on coastal upwelling ecosystems, it was evident we didn’t have a clear understanding of how upwelling-favorable winds are changing.”  READ MORE »

The Pace of Climate Change Predicts Rapid Changes in Marine Ecosystems

 A new study in Science highlights how climate change is affecting marine life.

           Petaluma, California, USA – To survive, many species respond to changes in climate by adapting - e.g. by altering their timing of breeding, spawning and migrating - or by relocating. A new study published today (4 November 2011) in the journal Science finds that life in the seas is likely to be more affected by climate change as much or more than life on land. The study also provides evidence that some of the most diverse marine ecosystems may be particularly vulnerable to risks from ocean warming.  READ MORE »

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