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New report shows effects of climate change in California

A report released earlier this week by the California Energy Commission and Climate Change Center indicate that the Golden State's hydroelectric outlook might be declining.

The study, titled "Our Changing Climate 2012, Vulnerability & Adaptation to the Increasing Risks from Climate Change in California," iis the third in a series of assessments about the impact of climate change on California's infrastructure and economy.

According to the report, temperatures in California have risen statewide by an average of 1.7 degrees between 1895 and 2011, with another 2.7 degree increase predicted through the first half of the 21st century.

Higher temperatures will result in more frequent large storms, greater demand for electricity and increased wildfires, CEC says.

And even though stronger storms are predicted, reservoirs are expected to actually have decreased water supplies on average because the state's has historically relied heavily on snowmelt.

The report says nearly three-fourths of California's hydroelectric power is produced by facilities located at altitudes above 1,000 feet and typically rely on small snowmelt-fed reservoirs, thus making them more vulnerable to the increased temperatures.

CEC says wildfires will likely increase as well, creating burned landscapes and silt that will erode into reservoirs, thereby decreasing hydropower capacity even more.

These fires will also make California's power distribution system more vulnerable -- particularly in the mountainous areas around Los Angeles and the northeastern corner of the state, where transmission lines connect to hydropower sources in the Pacific Northwest.

Previously, HydroWorld.com reported on a study that found warming streams could exterminate spring-run chinook salmon in California by the end of the century unless management options are adopted that would affect hydroelectric generation.


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