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Climate Change in California

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Climate Change in California

Thursday, April 4, 2024
5pm to 6pm PT

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Climate Change in California: What we know, what we don't know, and what it all means for the Golden State

Dr. Daniel Swain in Conversation with Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh

California is a land of great geographic and climatological diversity, and no stranger to drought, flood, and fire. The region already has one of the highest degrees of precipitation variability in the world, and is notably susceptible to extremes at both ends of the hydroclimate spectrum. California's cities and water infrastructure are designed with this relatively high variability explicitly in mind, and have historically been able to accommodate most of these natural swings from wet to dry (and back again) reasonably well. Yet in a warming climate, California is beginning to experience an even greater degree of "hydroclimate whiplash" that will eventually bring both droughts and floods that are outside the bounds of historical experience and will seriously threaten the state's ability to manage these hazards. In this talk, Dr. Daniel Swain will outline what we know with high certainty about California's changing climate, discuss some of the more speculative and uncertain aspects, and conclude with thoughts on what climate adaptations would be commensurate with the changes ahead.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Daniel Swain is a climate scientist focused on the dynamics and impacts of extreme events—including droughts, floods, storms, and wildfires—on a warming planet. Daniel holds joint appointments as a research scientist within UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, a research fellow in the Capacity Center for Climate and Weather Extremes at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and as the California Climate Fellow at The Nature Conservancy. He engages extensively with journalists and other partners, serving as a climate and weather science liaison to print, radio, television, and web media outlets to facilitate broadly accessible and accurate coverage surrounding climate change and the broader Earth system. Daniel is an alumnus of the University of California, Davis (B.S., Atmospheric Science) and of Stanford University (Ph.D., Earth System Science), and completed his postdoctoral work at UCLA. He also authors the Weather West blog (, which provides real-time perspectives on California and western North American weather and climate, and can be found on Twitter (@Weather_West) and YouTube (@WeatherWest).

Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh is the Kara J Foundation Professor and Kimmelman Family Senior Fellow in Stanford's Doerr School of Sustainability, and the Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. He studies the climate system, including the processes by which climate change could impact agriculture, water resources, and human health. Dr. Diffenbaugh has served the scholarly community in a number of roles, including as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the peer-review journal Environmental Research: Climate, and as Editor-in-Chief of Geophysical Research Letters from 2014-2018. He has also served as a Lead Author for the Intergovernmen

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