This is a re-posted entry from the UCANR Forestry Blog.
Using Cal-Adapt.org to get a local snapshot of the future climate in California
Author: Maggi Kelly
Author: Kevin Koy
Editor: Richard B Standiford
March 21, 2013
By 2008, the Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER) led by
the California Energy Commission (CEC) had collected more than 150 peer
reviewed reports on climate change, had funded dozens of researchers
and organizations investigating climate change scenarios, and produced
thousands of statewide GIS (geographic information system) data layers
depicting downscaled climate projections across the state. The agency
had a number of needs: they wanted relevant information presented in
easy to understand themes and topics, they wanted interactive maps and
charts providing a variety of approaches to explore different aspects of
climate change; and they wanted improved access to primary climate
change data in GIS and tabular formats.
The agency wanted to develop an innovative web based platform to
increase access to the wealth of climate change research and data being
produced by the scientific community in California. They wanted a
platform that addressed multiple types of publics: we wanted to address
the general public, who want to learn about climate change data
relevant to their area, we wanted to address local planners and
technicians, who need to obtain meaningful information and data to help
guide locally relevant climate action plans and adaptation strategies,
and we wanted to address the scientific community, who need to access
primary data relevant to an area of interest.
We at Berkeley’s Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) (http://gif.berkeley.edu)
worked with the CEC to develop the “Cal-Adapt” analysis platform as an
open source, web-based GIS and visualization project. The
Cal-Adapt.org website is a new resource for the state of California
that: 1) hosts a wealth of GIS data on modeled climate futures, 2)
allows users to visualize past and future projected climate layers in a
map framework, 3) provides all the data for download. This blog gives
you a quick look around the website. Please feel free to explore the
site, and your own area.
Cal-Adapt's development is a key recommendation of the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy: “The
California Energy Commission will develop the Cal-Adapt Web site that
will synthesize existing California climate change scenarios and
climate impact research and to encourage its use in a way that is
beneficial for local decision-makers.” – Page 9, 2009 California
Climate Adaptation Strategy.
The Climate Background
Scientists studying climate change usually frame climate discussions
in terms of four climate scenarios, of which two had been downscaled
for California by Scripps Institution of Oceanography called “B1” - The lower emissions scenario, and “A2”
- The medium-high emissions scenario. Scientists use a multitude of
different global circulation models, each developed and run at different
scientific labs, project how the climate will change under each of
these two scenarios. Four of these were models were used by scientists
at Scripps and made available to Cal-Adapt:
NCAR - National Center for Atmospheric Research Parallel Climate Model (PCM1);
CCSM - Community Climate System Model Version 3.0 (CCSM3);
GFDL - Geophysical Fluids Dynamic Laboratory (GFDL) CM2.1; and
CNRM - Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques.
Each model uses different assumptions and drivers and can lead to
differences in their outputs, so there is an advantage to using a
variety of these models when conducting analyses.
Local Snapshot Example: Eureka and Humboldt County, California.
Humboldt County, located in Northwest California, is the southern
gateway to the Pacific Northwest. The County is bound on the north by
Del Norte County; on the east by Siskiyou and Trinity counties; on the
south by Mendocino County and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The
County encompasses 2.3 million acres, 80 percent of which is
forestlands, protected redwoods and recreation areas. Humboldt County
faces a range of changes to its local climate: temperature, snowpack,
fire regimes and sea level. Each of these can be explored with Cal-Adapt
Local Snapshot tool.
Changes in Temperature
For example, if you want to explore the temperature changes projected
over the next century, you can use our local climate snapshot tool.
Figure 1, left, is the projected change in annual average temperatures
across in Humboldt County’s under a low carbon emissions scenario (B1).
The map above shows the projected difference in temperature between a
baseline time period (1961-1990) and an end of century period
In some areas of California, such as San Bernardino County, the
average annual temperature is expected to go up by as much as 4°F (low
emission scenario) to 7°F (high emission scenarios; in Humboldt County,
temperatures are expected to increase by between 3° F to 5°F (low
emission to high emission scenario).
Changes in Snowpack
Figure 2, right, shows the projected changes in April snow water
equivalence (SNWE) across Humboldt County under a high carbon emissions
scenario (A2). The map shows the projected difference in snow water
equivalency between a baseline time period (1961-1990) and an end of
century period (2070-2090). According to the projections, in
some areas of California, up to 25 inches of snow water are expected to
be lost in April over the next century. In Humboldt County, the modeled
historical average snowpack is 2.91 in. Under the low-emissions
scenario, snowpack is projected to be 88.5% of that amount; under the
high-emissions scenario, 98% of snowpack is projected to be lost. These
drastic projections are thought to be the results a combination of
factors including not only a decrease in preciption, but an earlier melt
given warmer temperatures.
Figure 3, left, shows areas vulnerable to a 100 year flood event as
sea level rises. The blue areas on the map indicate areas already in
threat today, while the lighter shades are areas projected to also be in
threat given the expected sea level rise. Humboldt County has a long
coastline, with considerable areas of coastal wetlands that might be
vulnerable to sea level rise. According to the projections from the Pacific Institute, 18% more land in Humboldt County may be vulnerable to a 100 year flood with a 1.4m sea level rise. 43,067.4
acres are vulnerable now, with a 1.4m sea level rise, 52,607.3 acres
could be at risk. Some areas of the state, including the San Francisco
Bay Area face increases of up to 40+% in areas vulnerable to sea level
Changes in Fire Regime
Figure 4, right, shows projected increase in potential amount of area
burned in 2085, as compared to present risk, across Humboldt County
under a low carbon emissions scenario (B1) for the CNRM model. The
darker oranges displayed on this map above suggest up to a 3-fold
increase in potential area burned. Other areas in California have a
higher risk, for example, Siskiyou, Modoc and Shasta Counties have high
projected increase in fire risk in the next century. These data and
projections come from UC Merced: Climate Applications Lab.
The website allows for sharing with your colleagues in a range of
ways. You can create links that save your zoomed map with all its
content and visualization choices, and these are shareable through
Facebook and other social media projects:
- Sea level:
You can also use many other sharing tools:
In addition to the examples above, there are many other data
available for visualization and download at the Cal-Adapt.org website.
For example, you can view and download monthly layers, from 1950-2099
for the following datasets: Actual evapotranspiration, Average
temperature, Baseflow, Fire, Fractional moisture in the entire soil
column, Maximum temperature, Minimum temperature, Net surface radiation,
Precipitation, Relative humidity, Runoff, Snow water equivalent, Soil
moisture at bottom layer, Soil moisture at middle layer, Soil moisture
at top layer, and Wind. These data can be downloaded in a range of
formats, over any date range, and directly integrated into your own GIS
or modeling software package.
The site has been developed by UC Berkeley's Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) with funding and advisory oversight by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program, and advisory support from Google.org.
The data used within the Cal-Adapt visualization tools have been
gathered from California’s scientific community, and represent the most
current data available wherever possible. Learn more about the variety
of scientists and organizations
that have contributed data and resources to Cal-Adapt. For more
information about mapping for a changing California, see Maggi Kelly’s
website at: http://kellylab.berkeley.edu.