At the University of California, said Lisa Sloan, an associate professor of Earth sciences, has figured out how global warming will effect the climate of California within the next 50 to 100 years.
One effect that doesn?t surprise anyone is that there will be less water around. “Everybody has guessed at the effects on water resources, but now we have numbers and locations. It’s a lot different from the standard arm-waving,” she says. “Our hope is that this kind of study will give state and regional officials a more reliable basis for planning how to cope with climate change.”
Los Angeles is already noticing the drought as homes are being invaded by thirsty rats. Brady Cline recently had rats removed from his Woodland Hills home. “We heard them in the walls,” says Cline. “It’s scary: You wonder if you’ll wake up with (rats) on your face.”
Sloan and her team created a computer model of the climate system in the region. They tested it by seeing if it would correctly predict today?s weather. When it worked, they used it to predict what the climate will be like in the future.
In California, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has doubled since preindustrial days and Sloan found out it will double again by 2050. Their model also showed a future in which higher average temperatures will occur every month in every part of the state. The warming will vary, however, with the greatest increases in temperature occurring at high elevations in the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range.
The model showed increased rainfall in northern California but rain staying the same in southern California, while snow accumulation in the mountains decreases dramatically. “With less precipitation falling as snow and more as rain, plus higher temperatures creating increased demand for water, the impacts on our water storage system will be enormous,” Sloan says.
“There are only two ways to tell how good the model is: One is to wait for 50 years and see what happens, and the other is to model the present day,? says Sloan. ?We’ve done the latter quite rigorously and have satisfied ourselves that the model does a good job of representing the present climate. So our confidence in these scenarios is pretty good.”
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