Saturday, May 26, 2007

The SF Bay & Global Warming

Its effects appear to have arrived in the Bay.

NEW: Evidence of global warming is here, regulators say
Recent trends in sea level, weather suggest massive change lies ahead for the region
By Douglas Fischer, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 05/23/2007 06:39:22 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO -- Forget the future. Global warming's impacts -- be they sea-level rise, weird weather, or vast ecological die-offs -- are well under way here and now.
Warming trends over the past 50 years suggest the region will have to rethink how it goes about restoring tidal wetlands, such as the vast South Bay salt ponds. Some regions being lovingly restored now may never emerge from low tide 20 to 50 years' hence.

On Wednesday meteorologists, oceanographers and ecologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration presented an overview of how the Bay Area will likely fare given global warming's expected impacts.

Most striking was that the scientists did not rely on predictions and models to make an impression.

They just looked back at the past few years.

Fishermen based out of Pilar Point and other commercial harbors are already switching gear as warm-water species like jumbo squid move north. Sperm whales -- rarely seen hereabouts -- are making regular appearances, following the squid. Meanwhile the giant blue whales, mainstays of the outer Farallon Islands, never showed last year.

And some evidence suggests humpbacks are switching to a fish diet, suggesting the two whales -- mom and calf -- lost and struggling in the Delta may just be the beginning.

Other examples:

* In last summer's heat wave that killed 140 people and fried nearly 10,000 Pacific Gas & Electric Co. transformers, daily highs were neither notable nor the problem, said National Weather Service senior meteorologist David Reynolds.

It was the nights. Many places in the Bay Area never got below 90 degrees.
"Transformers blew because we never before had to run air conditioning 24 hours a day for four days straight," Reynolds said.