Impacts of climate change hydrology

Existing extreme variability in precipitation throughout the basin combined with high levels of demand make the Sacramento Basin particularly vulnerable to climate change. Based on runs with the WEAP (2002) model, the net impact on the annual flow in the upper reaches of the Sacramento under the Hadley A2 climate scenario is an 11% decrease during the period 2010-2039, with a further decrease to 24% in 2070-2099, relative to no climate change. This decrease in flow occurs primarily from February toJuly, as illustrated in Fig. 11.5 below, for both climate change periods. Note that for the Land Use Change scenario only, the climate used is that of the historical record (see also Fig. 11.6).

Climate change could make water supplies more vulnerable due to reduced snow packs and thus lower summer streamflows, which would be a threat broadly to water-related ecosystem services, including municipal and agricultural sectors, recreational and commercial fishing, recreational viewing, as well as overall ecosystem health.

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