A research team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has found that flood damages triggered by atmospheric river storms may triple from $1 billion a year to over $3 billion a year by the end of the century unless action is taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
California had been a state for scarcely a decade and was home to fewer than 500,000 people when it was hammered in the winter of 1861-62 by the most powerful series of rainstorms in recorded history.
“This event, which was characterized by weeks-long sequences of winter storms, produced widespread catastrophic flooding across virtually all of California’s lowlands — transforming the interior Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys into a temporary but vast inland sea nearly 300 miles in length and inundating much of the now densely populated coastal plain in present-day Los Angeles and Orange counties.”
California’s water future is dire indeed — there’s not only the likelihood of too little, but also the possibility of way too much.
The potential for broad, devastating effects of climate change have become familiar over the years. In recent times, the prospect of actually running out of water has gone from the abstract to a realistic scenario in some regions of California and the Southwest.