What does climate change mean for California’s water supply?

    Spring 2016 Science Lecture Series
Change is the Only Constant:
10,000 Years of Climate Variability in California and What it Means for Our Water Supply
6 p.m. Tuesday, April 26

UCR’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences brings us this FREE event — the third in our science lecture series, Sustainability in a Time of Rapid Change: The Future of Earth, Life and Humanity. The lecture will be held in the auditorium at UCR Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert.

About this lecture: Ever wonder how bad or unusual the current drought really is? Curious if California is running out of water? Are you confused by talk of El Niño and La Niña? Well, join the club!

In this presentation Professor Sickman will lay out the basics of weather and climate in California and provide a long-term perspective on what the words “below average” and “drought” really mean in our state. He will present information on the elaborate water-works supplying southern California water, spanning an area from northern California to the Rocky Mountains, and discuss, in understandable terms, how large-scale variations in ocean-atmosphere interactions like El Niño impact our water supply.

The talk will cover the rich record of past California climate conditions, gleaned from archives such as tree-ring records, lake sediment cores and other sources, so that we can compare the current drought to other dry periods in California during the past 10,000 years. The talk will conclude with a look into the future of water supply in the West as climate warms and snowpacks melt.

About speaker James Sickman: Professor James Sickman is a watershed biogeochemist and limnologist who investigates cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in lakes, rivers and wetlands. Sickman specializes in the application of environmental isotopes to the study of how disturbed and undisturbed ecosystems are affected by major environmental problems such as acid rain, eutrophication, climate-change and surface-water pollution. Since the early 1980s, he has studied high elevation lakes and snowpack dynamics in the Sierra Nevada, and he is lead investigator on a NSF-funded program for long-term study of Emerald Lake in Sequoia National Park, which is the most well-studied high-elevation watershed in California. He is an advisor to the National Park Service and United States Forest Service on issues related to lake management, water supply and impacts of atmospheric deposition and climate change on mountain ecosystems. Sickman’s current research  attempts to reconstruct the past 10,000-year history of snowpack variation in the Sierra Nevada using paleoclimate reconstructions based on lake sediment cores.

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