Climate Change Adaptation - California

State Seal of California

        Threat from Sea Level Rise     Threat to Water Supply and Quality     Threat from Intensified Storm Events     Threat to Natural Habitat and Wildlife    
        Action: Completed Adaptation Plan Includes Wetlands     Action: Planning or Conducting Studies                

Climate Change History

In 2007, California completed a climate action plan titled “Proposed Early Actions to Mitigate Climate Change in California.”  Additional planning work was aided by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS).  As the title suggests, this document focuses on mitigation: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  It does not include adaptation as a concern.  California received some attention for its automotive standard as well.  This standard has since been adopted by several other states.

Current & Future Action

At the end of 2009, California released its Climate Adaptation Strategy.  This document outlines the threats facing California, in particular that of water shortages.  In addition to making explicit mention of wetlands, the plan has an extensive section on ecoservices and their importance for the State.  The California State Water Board is working to create a new wetland definition, delineation, and assessment policy which will protect wetlands in light of climate change.  This effort is in its second year, and is expected to complete in 2011.

Pilot Programs/Current Studies

Preparing for the Effects of Climate Change – A Strategy for California (2010)
This document addresses the threats the state has identified, including sea level rise (with specific mention of effects on coastal wetlands, shoreline habitat), effects on floodplains, etc. There are recommended studies and a need to monitor sea level rise and wave measurement, monitoring of saltwater intrusion in coastal acquifers, salinity changes in bays and estuaries, beach dynamics, coastal erosion rates, tetonic uplift rates, and changes in flooding patterns and wetland inundation, sedimentatin, and species; precipitation rates and snow pack density and more comprehensive measurement of fresh water diversions and groundwater usage. Task force recommendations include wetland restoration, preparing for sea level rise, etc. A case study on the San Francisco South Bay Salt Pond Restoration addresses the ecological value of wetlands, carbon sequestration, and other issues relevant to climate change adaptation planning.

For More Information

Update July 2012: Climate Vulnerability & Adaptation Study for California; Legal Analysis of Barriers to Adaptation for California’s Water Sector, July 2012

Update April 2012: CA has posted its Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Water Resources, which includes tidal wetlands.

For additional resources on climate change adaptation efforts and research in CA, go to:

The climate change portal for California is found at:

The California Adaptation Plan is available from:

For more information see the Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning (2011)