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State Climate Report Warns Of Catastrophe If Climate Change Goes Unchecked

Flames from a wildfire leap above traffic on Highway 101 north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Associated Press
Flames from a wildfire leap above traffic on Highway 101 north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.

The San Diego region's climate is likely to experience significant rises in temperatures, sea level, dryness and conditions that increase wildfire potential if climate change is left unchecked according to a new state report published Monday.

The state's Fourth California Climate Change Assessment is the first since 2012 and details the extreme damage and cost in both money and lives climate change in California could cause over the next century. It is the state's first climate assessment with regional reports to accompany the main report and includes a report by researchers from Scripps Oceanography and San Diego State on the greater San Diego area.

Temperatures in San Diego are expected to increase five-to-10 degrees and sea levels are expected to rise roughly three feet or higher by 2100. Researchers also expect precipitation events to increase in volatility, with longer durations of drought culminating in more violent precipitous activity.


"In California, facts and science still matter," Gov. Jerry Brown said on Twitter. "These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change."

The most devastating result of increased climate volatility could be an increase in large catastrophic fires according to the assessment. General risk of wildfires is likely to increase as the climate warms, but increases in the frequency of Santa Ana wind events and drier autumns are likely to exacerbate the already higher risk of wildfire damage.

Wildfire damage caused $12.6 billion in insured losses and killed 60 people in 2017 according to state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. The report found that the average area burned across the state by wildfires could increase by 77 percent by 2100.

"Climate change poses a significant threat to all of us," Jones said. "The Fourth Assessment has brought together key leaders, experts, agencies, and stakeholders throughout the state to understand the evolving impacts of climate change and potential actions that can protect Californians."