Sunday, November 20, 2011

What will climate change mean for California?

Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee: The songbirds at the feeder outside your window are not the same as they used to be. The goldfinch, the grosbeak and even the ever-present sparrow are all a little bit bigger. The reason is climate change, according to a new study, which found that 70 bird species, all common to Central California, have evolved a longer wingspan and greater body mass over the past 40 years. Scientists think such adaptations, in annual increments of less than a tenth of a percent on average, help birds cope with food shortages and stronger storms already triggered by climate change.

"We need to be thinking about things like extreme weather and other ways climate change is going to impact our ecosystems, and those things are not just important for birds," said Nat Seavy, co-author of the bird study and research director at PRBO Conservation Science, a research facility in Petaluma. "They are important for farmers and all sorts of people."

The evidence is just one piece of a new wave of research slowly painting a more vivid picture of what climate change may mean for California. The studies also reflect a new effort by scientists to help the public understand climate change by speaking plainly.

... Among the projections: Extreme water heights that cause flooding – a combination of sea level rise, high tide and storm surge – will switch from rare to routine. Water heights that now occur eight hours per decade at the Golden Gate are projected to occur 1,000 hours per decade by 2050, and worsen thereafter...

A US Army Corps of Engineers photographer took this aerial view of Guerneville, Sonoma County, California, USA. This photograph was taken during flooding on the Russian River, which runs through the town. The date on the photograph was not specified, but possibly taken during the floods of 1986.

No comments: