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Climate Change and Fires in Great Central Valley, California, USA

37.7N 121.7W

April 18th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Fires

USA – April 17th, 2013

Although the Great Central Valley of California appears quite peaceful from above, a look at the full image reveals several fires, marked by red squares. Scientists have attributed an increase in fires in this region to factors such as extended drought, forest die-offs from insect infestation and human encroachment, while insisting that the main culprit is climate change.

Great Central Valley of California and Climate Change Issues

37.3N 121.8W

March 1st, 2013 Category: Climate Change

USA – February 28th, 2013

The Central Valley of California, USA, is a vast region – about 450 miles long, averaging 50 miles wide. It is bound by mountain ranges – to the east and north stand the snow-capped Sierra Nevada and the Cascades, and to the west are the Coast Ranges, a barrier against the moister, milder climate of the Pacific Coast. The Tehachapis separate the Central Valley from the metropolitan areas to the south. Scientists have shown that global warming is placing additional stresses on water supply and use in the valley and the semi-arid parts of California.

Climate-change effects are also becoming already apparent in the state in areas with steep natural gradients in climate and species, such as the Sierra Nevada. Changes in snow/rain fractions, freeze/thaw cycles and temperature affect the availability of fresh water, with multi-billiondollar implications for California’s economy and the many ecosystem services in the affected forests and rangelands. Research has shown that shifts in snow accumulation, spring runoff, greenup, tree mortality, species migration and fire frequency are occurring; these trends and others are projected to continue (click here for more information).

Agriculture in California’s Central Valley, USA – November 26th, 2012

37.7N 122.4W

November 26th, 2012 Category: Image of the day

USA – November 25th, 2012

Visible in this image is California’s Central Valley, a large, flat valley that dominates the central portion of the state. The valley stretches approximately 450 miles (720 km) from northwest to southeast inland and parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast. It covers an area of approximately 22,500 square miles (58,000 km2), making it slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia and about 13.7% of California’s total area.

Its northern half is referred to as the Sacramento Valley, and its southern half as the San Joaquin Valley. The Sacramento Valley receives about 20 inches of rain annually, but the San Joaquin is very dry, often semi-arid desert in many places. This difference in dryness is suggested by the greener color of the northern half, and the more extensive presence of agricultural areas.

The two halves meet at the huge Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, which along with their tributaries drain the majority of the valley. The Delta is a large expanse of interconnected canals, streambeds, sloughs, marshes and peat islands.

Bodies of Water on Both Sides of Great Central Valley, California, USA

39.1N 120W

October 10th, 2012 Category: Lakes

USA – October 7th, 2012

Several bodies of water can be seen on both sides of the Great Central Valley in the state of California, USA. On the right side of the image are Lake Tahoe (center, right) and Pyramid Lake (above, right). Both lakes are connected by the Truckee River, which is the sole outlet of Lake Tahoe and drains part of the high Sierra Nevada, emptying into Pyramid Lake in the Great Basin. Its waters are an important source of irrigation along its valley and adjacent valleys.

In the lower left quadrant is the San Francisco Bay, a shallow, productive estuary through which water draining from approximately forty percent of California, flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountains, enters the Pacific Ocean.

Specifically, both rivers flow into Suisun Bay, which flows through the Carquinez Strait to meet with the Napa River at the entrance to San Pablo Bay, which connects at its south end to San Francisco Bay. However, the entire group of interconnected bays is often referred to as “San Francisco Bay”.

Agriculture Across California’s Great Central Valley, USA

38.7N 121.5W

June 12th, 2012 Category: Snapshots

USA - June 11th, 2012

California’s Central Valley is a large, flat valley that dominates the central portion of California. The valley stretches approximately 450 miles (720 km) from northwest to southeast inland and parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast.

The ‘Central Valley Grassland’ is the Nearctic temperate and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion which was once a diverse grassland containing areas of desert grassland (at the southern end), prairie, savanna, riverside woodland, marsh, several types of seasonal vernal pool and large lakes.

However much of the Central Valley environment has been removed or altered by human activity including the introduction of exotic plants, especially grasses. It is home to California’s most productive agricultural areas. The wetlands have been the target of rescue operations to restore areas nearly destroyed by agriculture