California’s primary source of water is at risk because the sea level is gradually rising and will begin to contaminate the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary with ocean water. The Sea level is predicted to rise 3 to 7 feet by 2100, depending on how fast Antarctic and Greenland ice melts. A 3-foot rise in sea level would inundate the Delta estuary west of Route 5. A larger catastrophe is also looming because any one of several known potential glacier collapses would significantly exceed current sea level rise predictions.
Archive for date: December 5th, 2017
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California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from reaching the state, according to new research led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The latest study adds a worrying dimension to the challenge California is already facing in adapting to climate change, and shifts focus to melting polar ice that only recently has been discovered to have such a direct, potentially dramatic impact on the West Coast.
One of the hard truths revealed by California’s five-year drought is that many small, rural communities lack the resources to adapt to water shortages. In this case, that means both money and expertise. It can be very expensive, for instance, to build a new water treatment plant or connect with one in the next closest town. Even if a community finds the money to build a small treatment plant, it may not have anyone locally with the expertise to operate it.
Southern California has begun its annual wet season with paltry amounts of precipitation so far, and the forecast does not bode well through at least the middle portion of December. Strong Santa Ana winds gusting to near 80 mph this week have made conditions worse by fanning destructive wildfires in Southern California. Los Angeles has seen just 0.11 inches of rainfall since Oct. 1, which ranks as the 11th-driest start to the wet season in 141 years of records, according to meteorologist Bob Henson of wunderground.com.
Polar bears aren’t the only ones in trouble from the Arctic’s melting ice. A new study by Bay Area scientists concludes that Californians could face reduced rainfall — and worse droughts — by the continuing loss of sea ice. Their computer analyses show a 10 to 15 percent average decrease in California’s rainfall in the coming decades. The culprit, scientists now believe, is a link between the melting ice and the buildup of massive high pressure systems that park off the California coast and block Pacific storms.
What happened to the rain? Less than a year after the drought was declared over, precipitation has been relatively scarce in the Sacramento area and Northern California so far this season. This week’s cold snap is accompanied by a round of dry weather that’s expected to last at least another 10 days. It’s too soon to panic about a prolonged dry spell, however.