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The Sierra Nevada and Climate Change Issues – March 23rd, 2013

38.5N 120.2W

March 23rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Mountains

USA – March 22nd, 2013

Population growth and climate change are among the most significant threats facing the Sierra Nevada, one of the fastest growing regions in California. The mountain range can be seen here, flanking California’s Great Central Valley. Sprawling development is increasing vehicle miles and greenhouse gas emissions, destroying rare habitat and agricultural lands, and straining natural resources upon which our communities depend. Climate change compounds these problems and contributes a new host of concerns for snowpack levels, water management and recreation, wildlife, and the frequency and severity of fires.

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.

Salton Sea, Gran Desierto de Altar and Mouth of Colorado River, USA and Mexico

33.2N 115.7W

October 26th, 2012 Category: Deserts, Lakes, Rivers, Sediments

USA and Mexico – October 26th, 2012

Visible in the upper left quadrant of this image is the Salton Sea, a huge but shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California’s Imperial and Coachella Valleys.

The lake occupies the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink in the Colorado Desert of Imperial and Riverside counties in Southern California. The sea is fed by the New, Whitewater, and Alamo rivers, as well as agricultural runoff drainage systems and creeks. Visible south of the sea is irrigated land in southern California and Mexico.

In the lower right quadrant, sediments from the Colorado River can be observed spilling into the Gulf of California or Sea of Cortez. The Gran Desierto de Altar, one of the major portions of the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, can also be seen extending across much of the northern border of the Gulf of California. It reaches more than 100 kilometers east to west, and over 50 km north to south, and constitutes the largest continuous wilderness area within the Sonoran Desert, as well as including the only active erg dune region in North America.

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”.

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