Warn of Serious Threat
Global Warming Poses to California
By Ioana Patringenaru | August 16, 2006
Sea levels and temperatures would rise. Beaches and
water supplies would shrink. Wildfires could become
more frequent. Global warming could have a devastating
impact on California, according to scientific findings
that Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers
and state officials discussed this month at UCSD.
The findings are based on 17 scientific studies that
used different models to determine how global warming
could impact the state. The studies were summarized
Changing Climate: Assessing the Risks to California,”
a report recently released by state officials. Scripps
and UC Berkeley researchers worked with colleagues
from other universities and public agencies, including
the California Air Resources Board and the USDA Forest
| Chancellor Marye Anne
“UCSD has had a long commitment to work with
the state of California and other partners to address
the threat of climate change in California,”
Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said during a press conference
on Aug. 11 at the Birch Aquarium.
Scripps and UCSD have been at the forefront of climate
change research for a long time, starting with Roger
Revelle and Charles Keeling’s work, Fox pointed
out. Five decades later, this most recent report found
- Average temperatures could rise between 1 and
2.3 degrees Fahrenheit during the next few decades.
By 2100, temperatures could rise above 90 degrees
Fahrenheit in the Los Angeles area for up to 100
more days per year
- The risk of large wildfires in California could
increase by as much as 55 percent
- Sea levels could rise by 14 to 35 inches by the
end of the century, leading to severe beach erosion.
“Global warming is one of the most daunting
challenges of our time,” said Linda Adams, the
state’s Secretary for the Environmental Protection.
| Reinhard Flick and the
During the Aug. 11 press conference, scientists and
state officials focused on threats to California’s
1,100 miles of coastline.
“Sun, surf and sand simply are the essence
of California,” said Reinhard Flick, a researcher
at Scripps and the state’s Department of Boating
Storms stripped beaches of sand in the past, especially
during El Nino events, but tides later replenished
them, Flick said. If sea levels rise faster, storms
could become more powerful and carry sand further
away, making it harder for beaches to recover, he
said. Erosion also would threaten oceanfront development.
“It’s not just rich people’s houses
we’re talking about going in the drink,”
Flick said. “It’s also important state
infrastructure, including state parks, parking, public
| Dan Cayan remarks on
The good news is that the report presents scenarios,
not forecasts, said Dan Cayan, a Scripps researcher
and one of the report’s contributing authors.
“We actually do have a choice in determining
which trajectory we go on,” he said.
People should conserve energy, turn their lights off
and try to find alternative energy sources, Cayan
“We’re going to have technology on our
side as time goes by, but in the meantime, personal
choices can make a difference,” he said.
On June 1, 2005 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed
an executive order that called for cutting head-trapping
emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. It also called for
scientific reports looking at the potential impact
of global warming on some sectors of California’s
economy. “Our Changing Climate: Assessing the
Risks to California” is the first of these reports.