Google Earth Applications in California - Improving dissemination of climate adaptation information

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani | published 25th Mar 2011 | last updated 15th Oct 2019

Welcome to the California part of the SEI Google Earth project on the use and representation of climate information. The second case study for this project is in Kenya.

This page provides access to several applications in Google Earth and google maps that have been developed for the project by scientists working on climate change science, impacts and adaptation in California. Data and information are presented in various ways, including thematic overlays, animations, scientific reports and interactive charts and tables. These layers cover topics ranging from downscaled climate projections, fire threat, landcover and habitat, population projections, and sea level rise in the bay area.

Viewing Animations

* Each of the applications below represents an animation that can be viewed on Google Earth.

* To view the animation, Google Earth needs to be installed and running.

* Click on the link and either Open With > Google Earth; or Save the file on your desktop, and open it in Google Earth.

IMPORTANT TIP: Run only one animation at a time - these animations can be processor intensive!

California Climate Data Guidance

Climate Data on a grid (and more)

This multi-scale, interactive application facilitates access to climate projections (precipitation and temperature) data, fire threat and landcover information, and urban population projections. Only data appropriate for the current scale of the GE viewport is made available to the user; 3 scales of interaction are provided. VIEW LAYER

COARSE SCALE (Tip! current scale=3 on top-left of viewport) The coarse-resolution grid (in blue), is of 0.5 degree latitude-longitude resolution. At this resolution only the climate data is provided, the other datasets being at too fine a resolution to aggregate meaningfully upto this scale. Further guidance for this layer can be found on this page.

 

Snow Depth

Screenshot showing snow depth

Screenshot showing snow depth

An animation of modeled weekly average snow accumulation in the south forkAmerican River watershed, from a 1971-1999 reference period. The animation is based on hydrologic modeling of the EID water system using the Water Evaluation and Planning System. Cooler colors correspond to deeper weekly snow depths.

VIEW LAYER

Tips: From the Places panel, click on "Overview" to read about the application.

Snow Loss under Climate Change

Screenshot showing snow loss

Screenshot showing snow loss

An animation of modeled losses in weekly average snow accumulation in the south fork American River watershed, for a future 2010-2049 period as compared to the 1971-1999 reference period. The animation is based on hydrologic modeling of the EID water system using the Water Evaluation and Planning System. Warmer (redder) colors correspond to greater snow losses. Values are in percent losses.

VIEW LAYER

Tips - From the Places panel, click on "Overview" to read about the application. • Remember to expand the folders and sub-folders to make your choice of climate model and emissions scenarios.

Contact: David Purkey

Climate

  Historic Temperatures

Historic Temperatures

An animation of historic average monthly temperature for California and Nevada. The monthly average spans years 1961-1990.

VIEW LAYER

Data Source: ENGR

Tips

  • On the timeline, the year is not entirely accurate. The data is averaged for years 1961-1990.
  • Units: degrees Celsius

Notes: The data behind this application has been extracted from the Gridded Observed Meteorological Data available for 1950-1999 from the website above.

Reference: Maurer, E.P., A.W. Wood, J.C. Adam, D.P. Lettenmaier, and B. Nijssen, 2002, A Long-Term Hydrologically-Based Data Set of Land Surface Fluxes and States for the Conterminous United States, J. Climate 15(22), 3237-3251

Historical Monthly Precipitation

   California Precipitation

California Precipitation

An animation of historic average monthlyprecipitation for California and Nevada. The monthly average spans years 1961-1990.

VIEW LAYER

Data Source: ENGR

Tips

  • On the timeline, the year is not entirely accurate. The data is averaged for years 1961-1990.
  • Units: mm

Notes: The data has been extracted from the Gridded Observed Meteorological Data available for 1950-1999 from the website above.

Reference: Maurer, E.P., A.W. Wood, J.C. Adam, D.P. Lettenmaier, and B. Nijssen, 2002, A Long-Term Hydrologically-Based Data Set of Land Surface Fluxes and States for the Conterminous United States, J. Climate 15(22), 3237-3251

Contact: Ed Maurer Civil Engineering Department Santa Clara University 500 El Camino Real Santa Clara, CA 95053-0563 tel: 408.554.2178 fax: 408.554.5474

Projected Warming

   Projected warming

Projected warming

VIEW LAYER

About

This is a selection of 6 animations of average annual temperature projections into the future. The overlays presented are under 3 climate projections and two emissions scenarios, from 2010 to 2100, and are presented as differences from a historical average annual temperature calculated for a reference period of 1961-1990. This application loads all six animations into one Google Earth layer - each animation can be viewed one at a time using radio folders.

Data Sources

ENGR

Santa Clara University

Tips

  • If you pause the animation and click on any cell, the corresponding temperature difference for that year and selected cell is displayed (in degrees Celsius).
  • It may take close to 30 seconds to load this layer.

Notes

The original data were on a 1/8 degree grid. To reduce the file size, the Google Earth animations provided upon clicking "View Layer" are produced from data aggregated to 0.5 degree grids.

The same animations were also produced at original data resolution of 1/8 degree latitude-longitude. These can be accessed for the six projections individually here: NOTE that these files, approximately 6 Mb in size, will take up to a minute to load, and may not render perfectly on Google Earth, due to the very large number of polygons loaded for every time step of the animation.

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the modeling groups, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) and the WCRP's Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for their roles in making available the WCRP CMIP3 multi-model dataset. Support of this dataset was provided by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy.

References

Maurer, E.P., A.W. Wood, J.C. Adam, D.P. Lettenmaier, and B. Nijssen, 2002, A Long-Term Hydrologically-Based Data Set of Land Surface Fluxes and States for the Conterminous United States, J. Climate 15(22), 3237-3251

Maurer, E. P., L. Brekke, T. Pruitt, and P. B. Duffy (2007), Fine-resolution climate projections enhance regional climate change impact studies, Eos Trans. AGU, 88(47), 504.

Data Contact

Ed Maurer Civil Engineering Department Santa Clara University 500 El Camino Real Santa Clara, CA 95053-0563

El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) - Using WEAP

El Dorado WEAP work on the Adaptation Layer

El Dorado WEAP work on the Adaptation Layer

SEI has established collaboration with the El Dorado Irrigation District, a water purveyor on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to investigate the potential impacts of climate change on a water system that depends to a large degree on the accumulation of snow at high elevation during the winter and the progressive melting of this snow during the late spring and early summer. A WEAP application of the system has been developed in order to test drought management triggers and actions that were defined by the district assuming that historic hydrologic patterns will be representative of future conditions. Climate change calls this assumption into question. This project will introduce notions of uncertainty and risk management into the definition of drought plan triggers and actions adopted by the district, as well as other long-term actions being contemplated by the district.

VIEW LAYER

Funder: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Partners: University of California, Berkeley, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Contact: David Purkey Stockholm Environment Institute

Please Note: Users will need to have the Google Earth Plug-in installed on their computer, and our work will require the extra functionality of the new, version 5. Although the plug-in is available for all the browsers and environments listed below we recommend you use Firefox 3.x on a PC. Other platforms and browsers are not fully tested by us at this time.

The Google Earth Plug-in is currently available for the following web browsers:

On MS Windows (2000, XP, & Vista)

  • Google Chrome 1.0+
  • Internet Explorer 6+
  • Firefox 2.0+
  • Flock 1.0+

New! Apple Mac OS X 10.4 and higher (Intel and PowerPC)

  • Safari 3.1+
  • Firefox 3.0+

(nb issues exist on older Macintosh systems with all browsers)

Fire

Fire Threat

Current fire threat

Current fire threat

California Fire Threat Classification.

VIEW LAYER

Data Source: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF)

Notes This statewide fire threat map (version v05_1), generated by CDF, combines expected fire frequency with potential fire behavior to create 4 threat classes. This attribute SHOULD NOT be used to calculate fire threats to people.

For more information, follow the CDF link above.

Projected Fire threat

Projected fire threat

Projected fire threat

This is a selection of 12 overlays of modeled Burnt Area into the future. The overlays presented are under 3 climate projections and 2 emissions scenarios, for two 30-year time periods centered on 2050 and 2085, relative to a 30-year reference period centered on 1975. Values 0.0 to 4.0 represent the ratio of future burned area to the reference period - warmer colors represent higher burned area relative to the reference period. For example, a value of 4.0 corresponds to modeled future burned area at least four times as large as during the reference period.

This research was supported by the California Energy Commission via the California Climate Change Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Integrated Science and Assessment Program for California, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station.

VIEW LAYER

Tips

  • From the Places panel, click on "Overview" to read about the data.
  • Remember to expand the folders and sub-folders to make your choice of climate model, emissions scenario, and time period.

Reference "Climate Change, Growth and California Wildfire"; 2009 Climate Action Report Authors: A.L. Westerling, B.P. Bryant,H.K. Priesler, H.G. Hidalgo, T.Das, and S.R. Shrestha. Full report

Contact: Tony Westerling

Sea-level Rise

This section showcases visualizations of the impacts of sea level rise.

The Pacific Institute has developed a Google Maps application an interactive online map on the impacts of sea level rise on infrastructure on the California coast. VIEW LAYER

Data Source: Pacific Institute

USGS: Noah Knowles of the USGS has provided the following application on sea level rise. VIEW LAYER

Population projections

An animation of county population estimates, every 5 years from 2005 to 2100. County population is represented as percentage difference from year 2000 population. VIEW LAYER

N.b. County population projections were developed for low, medium and high scenarios. This animation is for the low scenario.

Data Source: Public Policy Institute of California

Reference: To be determined.

Contact: Hans Johnson

Thematic Overlays

Land-Cover

Land Cover

Land Cover

California Land Cover classification: VIEW LAYER

Data Source: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF)

Notes This statewide landcover map is based on the MultiSource Land Cover Data (v02_2) by CDF. The land cover attribute displayed corresponds to .California Wildlife Habitat Relationship (WHR) 10 - class code. For more information, follow the CDF link above

County Boundaries California county boundaries, along with year 2000 population figures: VIEW LAYER

N.b. It may take a minute to load this image on Google Earth. (Ctrl) Click on a county polygon to get county name and 2000 population figures.

Data Source: Public Policy Institute of California and National Atlas

Watersheds California watershed boundaries VIEW LAYER

N.b. It may take up to 3 minutes to load this image on Google Earth. (Ctrl) Click on a polygon to get information for each watershed.

Data Source: National Atlas and DWR

Studies This application links to a sampling of climate change related reports generated by the California Climate Change Center (CCCC). VIEW LAYER

N.b. Several publications and white papers from the CCC are available here.

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