Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Warming & Floods & Drought

California is in for a lot of both, due to global warming, a new report says.

Report: Global warming means drought, floods for California
BY FRANK DAVIES, San Jose Mercury News
Article Last Updated: 04/16/2007 10:11:02 PM PDT

WASHINGTON - Fierce competition for scarce water among California and its neighbors.

Longer droughts and wildfire seasons throughout the West. Heat waves that will tax utilities. More severe storms and floods. Rising sea levels and problems for fisheries. And a mixed bag for agriculture, with some crops benefiting and others hurt.

That's the likely future for California and other western states contained in a mountain of data released Monday showing the potential effects of climate change on North America - part of the international report on global warming compiled by hundreds of scientists.

The findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will not surprise Californians who have been following reports on how climate change already is affecting the state. The IPCC report did not include original research, but was a compilation and analysis of data that had already been collected.

"What the IPCC report does is apply confidence to the quality of science" in numerous studies, said Stephen Schneider, a Stanford University climate expert.

The report found a 90 percent chance that global warming in western mountains will cause "decreased snowpack, more winter flooding and reduced summer flows exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources."

That means greater water scarcity throughout California and conflicts among western states - especially California and Arizona - and among users, from agriculture to homeowners to the tourism industry, said Roger Pulwarty, a research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report also found a 90 percent likelihood that a rising sea level will increase coastal erosion. Also, the Sacramento River and other river basins with a history of floods will be exposed to an even greater risk of flooding.

"The report's message is water, water, water - more drought in the West, more flooding in the East and higher sea levels along all our coasts," said Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation.