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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on the Size and Frequency of Floods in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley


How might climate change alter California’s risk of floods in the future? Findings from this project suggest that flooding will become more intense in the San Joaquin and (to a lesser extent) Sacramento watersheds by the end of the century, irrespective of whether the climate becomes wetter or drier. More intense flooding appears to be a consequence of several factors—principally bigger storms, more frequent big storms and more days of precipitation falling as rain instead of snow. Moister winter soils, which may be too saturated to absorb added water, also contribute to flooding in some areas.

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