Aquarium’s Fall Aquatic Academy Course Will Address Climate Change Impacts to California’s Water

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Climate and water play key roles in our economy, lifestyle, and infrastructure in Southern California, making large populations and robust agricultural production possible in this region. Currently about 65 percent of California’s water supply comes from the Sierra Nevada Mountains snow pack. However, climate change is likely to change the timing of its availability, requiring the state to use water more efficiently and turn to additional water sources to fill in the gap. Water levels are also tied to droughts and wildfires, meaning climate change could intensify the conditions that lead to these severe events. The Aquarium of the Pacific is developing programming to help educate the public on California’s water supply and what impacts climate change might have on that supply. Over four consecutive Thursday evenings beginning October 20, the Aquarium’s Fall 2011 Aquatic Academy Course, California and Water: How Will Southern California Get Its Water in the Future?, will focus on this pressing topic and explore California’s water through the lenses of history, geology, and climate change. Attendees will learn about the role of climate change, droughts, floods, and what these things mean for the future of California’s water.

The Aquatic Academy course will feature speakers from the California Department of Water Resources, the Desert Research Institute, the University of Arizona’s School of Geography and Development, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, the Long Beach Water Department, and the Aquarium of the Pacific. “Raising public awareness of this issue is crucial. In developing this course, the Aquarium of the Pacific is providing an opportunity for people to gain a deeper knowledge of the situation we’re in here in Southern California, giving them a foundation from which to make their own decisions about water use and take action,” says Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager, California Department of Water Resources. Jones helped develop and organize the course with Aquarium of the Pacific President and CEO Dr. Jerry Schubel.

“California’s water infrastructure was designed based on historical climate conditions. We need to be prepared to adapt to a changing future climate that will bring new drought and flooding challenges. When people think of Southern California and water problems, drought is usually what comes to mind first. Many people don’t realize that the state’s record for twenty-four-hour precipitation intensity was set in Los Angeles County. Southern California is a region of climate extremes, and climate change will make these extremes—droughts and floods—become more extreme,” Jones says.

The course cost is $50 for Aquarium members, $60 for non-members, and $15 extra for CEU credit in conjunction with California State University, Long Beach’s continuing education program. For more information on the course or to RSVP, call (562) 951-1609.

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