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Feng, DM, Beighley E, Raoufi R, Melack J, Zhao YH, Iacobellis S, Cayan D.  2019.  Propagation of future climate conditions into hydrologic response from coastal southern California watersheds. Climatic Change. 153:199-218.   10.1007/s10584-019-02371-3   AbstractWebsite

As a biodiverse region under a Mediterranean climate with a mix of highly developed and natural watersheds, coastal Santa Barbara County (SB), located in southern California, is susceptible to the hydrologic impacts of climate change. This study investigates the potential changes in hydro-meteorological variables in this region as well as their societal and ecological implications for projected climate conditions during the twenty-first century. Daily streamflow ensembles from 135 coastal watersheds for the period 2021-2100 are developed using the Hillslope River Routing (HRR) model forced with downscaled precipitation and temperature projections derived from 10 climate models in the Coupled Model Inter-Comparison Project, Phase 5, and two emission scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways, RCP, 4.5 and 8.5). Analysis of the projected ensemble precipitation and streamflow series relative to historical conditions (1961-2000) shows (i) minimal change in annual precipitation (median change within +/- 3%); (ii) an altered seasonal rainfall distribution with a decrease in rainfall at the beginning of the rainy season (Oct-Dec), an increase during the Jan-Mar period, and a decrease at the end of the season (Apr-Jun); (iii) increases in the magnitude and frequency of large storms (>36mm/day) which combined with a shorter rainy season, lead to increases in annual peak flows; and (iv) the propagation of the altered precipitation characteristics resulting in nonlinear changes in the magnitude and variability of annual maximum discharges (i.e., mean, standard deviation, skew) impacting estimated return period discharges (e.g., estimated 100-year flood discharges for the period 2061-2100 under 8.5 increase by up to 185%). While these results are specific to southern coastal California, the nature of nonlinear hydrologic response to altered precipitation characteristics underscores the value of regional studies investigating potential impacts of climate projections on streamflow dynamics.

Franco, G, Cayan D, Luers A, Hanemann M, Croes B.  2008.  Linking climate change science with policy in California. Climatic Change. 87:S7-S20.   10.1007/s10584-007-9359-8   AbstractWebsite

Over the last few years, California has passed some of the strongest climate policies in the USA. These new policies have been motivated in part by increasing concerns over the risk of climate-related impacts and facilitated by the state's existing framework of energy and air quality policies. This paper presents an overview of the evolution of this increased awareness of climate change issues by policy makers brought about by the strong link between climate science and policy in the state. The State Legislature initiated this link in 1988 with the mandate to prepare an assessment of the potential consequences of climate change to California. Further interactions between science and policy has more recently resulted, in summer of 2006, in the passage of Assembly Bill 32, a law that limits future greenhouse gas emissions in California. This paper discusses the important role played by a series of state and regional climate assessments beginning in 1988 and, in particular, the lessons learned from a recently completed study known as the Scenarios Project.

Franco, G, Cayan DR, Moser S, Hanemann M, Jones MA.  2011.  Second California Assessment: integrated climate change impacts assessment of natural and managed systems. Climatic Change. 109:1-19.   10.1007/s10584-011-0318-z   AbstractWebsite

Since 2006 the scientific community in California, in cooperation with resource managers, has been conducting periodic statewide studies about the potential impacts of climate change on natural and managed systems. This Special Issue is a compilation of revised papers that originate from the most recent assessment that concluded in 2009. As with the 2006 studies that influenced the passage of California's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), these papers have informed policy formulation at the state level, helping bring climate adaptation as a complementary measure to mitigation. We provide here a brief introduction to the papers included in this Special Issue focusing on how they are coordinated and support each other. We describe the common set of downscaled climate and sea-level rise scenarios used in this assessment that came from six different global climate models (GCMs) run under two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios: B1 (low emissions) and A2 (a medium-high emissions). Recommendations for future state assessments, some of which are being implemented in an on-going new assessment that will be completed in 2012, are offered.