Climate Change

Climate Change and the Delta

Michael Dettinger, Jamie Anderson, Michael Anderson, Larry Brown, Daniel Cayan, Edwin Maurer

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Key points:

  • Climate change amounts to a rapidly approaching, “new” stressor in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system.
  • The Delta’s climate is characterized by high variability, and climate change is expected to accentuate this variability, resulting in both more extreme flood risks and greater drought risks. Thus, the Delta of the future will be very different than the Della we know today.
  • Effects on the Delta ecosystem include sea level rise, reduced snowpack, earlier snowmelt and larger storm-driven streamflows, warmer and longer summers, warmer summer water temperatures, and water-quality changes.
  • These changes and their uncertainties will challenge the operations of water projects and uses throughout the Delta’s watershed and delivery areas.
  • Climate change will affect the ecosystem, and although the effects are difficult to predict, it is expected that native species will fare worse than invasive species.
  • Despite uncertainty, successful adaptation to climate change in the Delta is possible.