New signs of global warming in the Bay Area

June 4, 2010 7:03:32 PM PDT
As the gulf leak wears on and on, it has almost upstaged another environmental issue: climate change which it wears on. Local reports in the past two days paint very sobering pictures.

For Stephanie Sanchez of Petaluma, this was as good a day as any for capturing a moment in time at Skaggs Island, which is part of an environment influx.

"I'm most aware of how every moment changes," she said.

That prophetic comment from an artist came on a day when scientists said pretty much the same thing, with data to back it up.

"We can expect changes more in accordance with a tropical environment," report author Dr. Bill Sydeman said.

Sydeman helped author a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It looks at the Gulf of the Farallones and concludes that the effects of climate change are well underway in that region.

In some places, water temperatures have risen five degrees Fahrenheit in 30 years, causing warm water species to move in, and colder ones to move out.

"It's mixed. There are winners and losers. If you're a salmon, you're losing in this battle," Sydeman said.

It is another example of the difference between weather, which is short term and climate, which changes over decades. And now we can see that climate is affecting changes inland as well.

"If we continue to emit greenhouse gasses, half the state is vulnerable to shifts in the future," Dr. Patrick Gonzales from UC Berkeley said.

Gonzales expects that with less rain in Southern California, we can expect more brush and forest fires.

More worrisome is that pine trees may disappear from parts of the Sierra. They play a crucial role in retaining water for the spring run-off, which fills rivers, lakes, reservoirs and comes through your tap.

"Well it's the trees on land that soak up water and feed reservoirs. Some of these shifts are reducing trees on the land. They're dying out," Gonzales said.

According to scientists, change is normal and constant, but change this fast is more than a little frightening.


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