Warning that two-thirds of Southern California's beaches could completely disappear and the average area burned by wildfires could nearly double by 2100, the State of California has released California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment'.
Warning that two-thirds of Southern California’s beaches could completely disappear and the average area burned by wildfires could nearly double by 2100, the State of California has released California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment’. It details new science on the devastating impacts of climate change and provides planning tools to support the state’s response. “In California, facts and science still matter,” an official statement quoting Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. said.
“These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change.” The compilation of original climate research includes 44 technical reports and 13 summary reports on climate change impacts to help ready the state for a future punctuated by severe wildfires, more frequent and longer droughts, rising sea levels, increased flooding, coastal erosion and extreme heat events. The peer-reviewed research translates global models into scaled down, regionally relevant reports to fill information gaps and support decisions at the local, regional and state levels.
California has completed three prior Climate Change Assessments. Since the release of California’s Third Climate Change Assessment in 2012, the state has experienced several of the most extreme natural events in its recorded history, including a severe five-year drought, an unprecedented tree mortality crisis, damaging floods driven by atmospheric rivers, and increasingly large and destructive wildfires.
The Fourth Assessment suggests these events will worsen in the future. Among the key findings it says climate change will make forests more susceptible to extreme wildfires. By the year 2100, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, one study found that the average area burned by wildfires would increase 77 per cent and the frequency of extreme wildfires burning more than 25,000 acres would increase by nearly 50 per cent.
In the areas that have the highest fire risk, the cost of wildfire insurance is estimated to rise by 18 per cent by 2055. Additionally, the percentage of property insured in California would decrease. The climate change reports predict sea-level rise too. Under mid to high sea-level rise scenarios, up to 67 per cent of Southern California beaches may completely erode by 2100 without large-scale human interventions. Statewide damages could reach nearly $17.9 billion from inundation of residential and commercial buildings if sea-level rise reaches 20 inches, which is within range of mid-century projections.
A 100-year coastal flood, on top of this sea-level rise, would almost double the cost of damages. The latest reports also detail the unique and disproportionate climate threats to vulnerable communities and tribal communities, with a focus on working collaboratively with these communities on research and solutions for resilience. In addition, a report set for release in early September will highlight how California can better integrate climate impacts in design processes for critical infrastructure.