Climate Change Scenarios for the San Francisco Region



Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego




Climate model simulations were used to investigate possible changes in regional climate over California. To accomplish this, the model simulations were downscaled from the coarse global climate model resolution (usually 150 kilometers [km] or greater horizontal grid spacing) to about 12 km horizontal grid spacing over the California region, using statistical techniques. The global model output was used in a statistical modeling scheme to produce sea-level projections for selected California coastal sites. Six global climate models and two greenhouse emissions scenarios, the medium-high emissions Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A2 and the lower emissions SRES B1 were considered. By the end of the twenty-first century, the envelope of warming in the models projections, as an annual average, ranges from about 2°C to 6°C (about 3.5 °F to 11°F). On average, mean annual temperature of the A2 scenarios is about 1.5°C (about 3°F) greater than that of the B1 scenario. There is greater warming in summer than in winter. All simulations indicate that hot daytime and nighttime temperatures (heat waves) increase in frequency, magnitude, and duration from the historical period and during the projected period through the first half of the twenty-first century. Projected precipitation is marked by considerable variability between years and decades. In the southern half of California, the models show a decline in annual precipitation. Sea level, at hourly intervals for the historical through the projected twenty-first century, is estimated for selected tide gage sites along the California coast, with rises in the sample of simulations considered here ranging from 27 to 48 centimeters (cm) (11 to 19 in) over historical levels by 2050, and ranging from 77 cm to 140 cm (30 to 55 in) over historical levels by 2100. The rise of mean sea level would provoke an increase in extreme events, as gaged by exceedances above a relatively high or rare historical threshold. Such events become much more frequent and have longer durations than has been seen historically. This is a state-funded research study sponsored by the California Energy Commission.

Climate Impact Tags

Extreme heat Extreme storms Sea level rise Temperature

Resource Type Tags

Scientific study


Extent: California, San Francisco County


Last updated: Nov. 27, 2020