Observed climate trends and projections of accelerated future change have motivated several studies of the impacts of climate change on water resources management in California. This paper presents a methodology that improves on previous approaches, revealing fundamental climate change risks to one of the State of California’s key water resource systems — the integrated California Central Valley System (CCVS). By using a bottom-up decision scaling approach, starting with a systematic climate change stress test of the performance of the system to changes in temperature and precipitation, specific vulnerabilities to the system are identified.
This study also improves on previous water resource vulnerability analyses by incorporating and evaluating a much wider range of inter-annual precipitation variability than has previously been used. By drawing from the 1,100-year (reconstructed dendrochronology) record of Sacramento and San Joaquin river flows, vulnerabilities to low frequency natural climate variability are analyzed in concert with expected potential climate changes. The results of this analysis provide a comprehensive summary of the sensitivity of the system to climate change.
This paper provides results and discussion of select future system performance metrics at 2050. Results indicate that declines in almost every category (e.g., supply, storage, delta outflow) of system performance are likely. The likelihood of severely degraded future performance is especially high for north-of-Delta carryover storage and Delta exports. The results of this study are expected to provide water managers and decision-makers with more actionable science because they provide probabilistic results that can be used in more traditional risk management approaches to planning of climate change adaptation investment decisions.