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Californian water shortages?

Nearly 75 percent of California’s precipitation falls in the winter. Relatively speaking, the spring and summer are very dry. During these seasons, California relies on snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for water. Snowpack acts as a natural reservoir, holding winter precipitation and releasing it slowly throughout the year as the snow melts. As global and regional temperatures rise, winter snow will gradually be replaced by rain, and the snow that does fall will melt earlier. Thus, spring and summer snowpack will decline. If we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Sierra snowpack could decrease 90%. As Hayhoe et al. concluded "Snowpack declines of 73–90%, with cascading impacts on runoff and streamflow that, combined with projected modest declines in winter precipitation, could fundamentally disrupt California's water rights system.” How would these severe water shortages impact California, and how would the state adapt? If greenhouse gas emissions are significantly curbed, the losses in snowpack are expected to be half as great (30%-70%). How would these less severe water shortages impact California? Furthermore, how would California adapt? http://www.pnas.org/content/101/34/12422.abstract

Asked By: ~QT~™ - 8/17/2010
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
You cite an paper with predictions, dated 2004. In 2008, researchers from Scripps Institute in San Diego (some of the same researchers) published a report in Science that they had already measured declining snowpack over the past 50 years... More
Answered By: Baccheus - 8/17/2010
Additional Answers (13)
Or the increased water vapor that comes from increased temperature will increase the snow pack. I spend some time in the Sierras and it is still very cold, particularly in the winter, and it will remain so into the distant future. I get the feeling that a lot of people think the only water from mountains comes from... More
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Answered By: jim z - 8/17/2010
 
California will adapt by building more reservoirs, experiencing more shortages and rationing water. The agricultural industry will probably be hit very hard... More
Answered By: pegminer - 8/17/2010
 
Contrary to jim's "gut feeling" (which seems to be the source of every single one of his answers), the Sierra snowpack provides about 60% of California's water supply. Additionally, about a quarter of the state's power comes from hydroelectric plants that count on heavy mountain runoff... More
Answered By: Dana1981 - 8/17/2010
 
Just to correct Dana, Ca. has around 400 hydro plants which contribute less than 15% of electricity needs of the state.
Answered By: Matthew - 8/17/2010
 
"If greenhouse gas emissions are significantly curbed, the losses in snowpack are expected to be half as great (30%-70... More
Answered By: Bad Moon Rising - 8/17/2010
 
Sux maybe i should stop taking 40 min showers
Answered By: Freedom Isnt Free - 8/17/2010
 
The Colorado river supplies a significant amount of water to California. Lake Mead now has a "bathtub ring" due to prolonged drought. It is dropping 10 feet a year and is within 10 feet of triggering water restrictions... More
Answered By: Barley - 8/17/2010
 
I remember a few years ago when the province I live in was planning to build a pipeline for fresh water from our province to California. I don't believe it was built. Now the province is talking about building excess clean energy electricity production plants, such as Dams, wind farms, tidal generators, wave farms, etc... More
Answered By: Jeff M - 8/17/2010
 
The scarcity of fresh water resources and the need for additional water supplies is already critical in many arid regions of the world and will be increasingly important in the future. It is very likely that the water issue will be considered, like fossil energy resources, to be one of the determining factors of world... More
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Answered By: Ashland Local - 8/17/2010
 
Well if global warming ever starts maybe that will be a concern but as the records show there is no decrease in average snowfall. So you are just repeating false fear mongering from the AGW camp.
Source(s):
Answered By: Peter - 8/18/2010
 
Perhaps it is time to rethink the amount of storm water we divert as "waste" to the ocean. Money used to create storm sewers needs to instead be used to collect and treat storm water for our use.
Answered By: Amanda - 8/18/2010
 
It probably will since higher temperatures equal higher evapotranspiration rates.
Answered By: Will - 8/18/2010
 
You are wasted as as an environmentalist, With your psychic abilities of prediction you would be suited to a career in astrology.
Answered By: Pindar - 8/18/2010
 
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