A key product of the Santa Cruz Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) was a tabular synthesis of the expected future climate conditions in the region based on existing studies, science and model outputs. The climate projections were systematically evaluated in the context of critical system components to identify the relative sensitivity and adaptive capacity of each. The relative vulnerability was determined for each system component and used to guide adaptation action priorities in the region that, if implemented, are expected to lessen the potential future impacts. Making climate change considerations inherent in prioritizing quantitative management objectives and the future tracking of IRWM progress greatly improved the relevance of the climate science available to the regional Santa Cruz decision makers.
2NDNATURE led the development of a two-year effort to provide the Tahoe Basin with a defensible and well informed climate change science synthesis and systems vulnerability analysis. As a result, a collection of initial adaptation strategy policies were developed for the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program. The scientific synthesis was drafted to make global climate change science information accessible and relevant to Lake Tahoe Basin resource managers as they make decisions to improve the resiliency of the Lake Tahoe physical and human systems to climate change. The vulnerability analysis was intended to improve policy and decision makers’ understanding of the vulnerability of Lake Tahoe systems to climate change, including the level of uncertainty contained in future climate projections and anticipated impacts. Two initial adaptation policies were recommended for the Tahoe Basin: (1) Climate Change Capital Improvement Hydrologic Design Policy Recommendation to incorporate future predictions of climate adjusted meteorology into infrastructure design; and (2) Climate Change Stream Restoration Policy Recommendation to incorporate effective stream restoration actions into the Lake Clarity Crediting Program, due to the potential pollutant load reduction, hydrologic benefits and climate change adaptation opportunities that result from reduced runoff volumes due to improved function and distribution of floodplains.
A climate change vulnerability assessment was performed to help the North Coast Region IRWMP prepare for anticipated climate change impacts. Literature review and analysis of climate and hydrologic projections were used to identify the expected severity of specific impacts for natural, built, and economic systems in the region. Analysis was focused on anticipated system responses related to watershed health and aquatic systems in the region including wildfire regimes, coldwater fish habitat, coastal development, agriculture, and recreation. A set of tables and figures were produced that distilled the vast body of relevant scientific literature available to succinctly illustrate connections between regional systems, climate projections, resource impacts, and supporting evidence. The concepts of sensitivity and adaptive capacity were used to determine vulnerability and included a rating of confidence associated with each vulnerability determination.