Our Changing Climate 2012: Vulnerability and Adaptation to the Increasing Risks from Climate Change in California

Produced by the California Institute of Energy and the Environment based in the University of California, this is a brief summary report on the 2012 Vulnerability and Adaptation Study, California's third major assessment on climate change. Our Changing Climate 2012 used climate projections and refined topographic, demographic and land use information to identify California's primary vulnerabilities to climate change. The report describes extreme heat impacts on public health and vulnerable populations, water supply and management, energy sector risks of wildfire on transmission and drought to hydropower, sea level rise and coastal storms, the increasing risks of California's ecosystems and species to wildfire, and agriculture's vulnerabilities and potential for adaptation. 

Some of the major findings as summarized in the report include:

  • The state’s electricity system is more vulnerable than was previously understood.
  • The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is sinking, putting levees at growing risk.
  • Wind and waves, in addition to faster rising seas, will worsen coastal flooding.
  • Animals and plants need connected “migration corridors” to allow them to move to more suitable habitats to avoid serious impacts.
  • Native freshwater fish are particularly threatened by climate change.
  • Minority and low-income communities face the greatest risks from climate change.

The complete Third Assessment is actually a series of 37 reports for the energy, water, agriculture, public health, coastal, transportation, and ecological resource sectors. Each sector is represented in this summary, highlighting significant climate impacts as reported in the assessment, along with color graphics making the data even more accessible. The assessment included a regional focus for the San Francisco Bay area, with 9 of the 37 reports dedicated to this region as well. 

The Third Assessment is a product of a multi-institution collaboration among Cal/EPA, Natural Resources Agency, Department of Water Resources, Energy Commission, Air Resources Board, Ocean Protection Council, Department of Public Health, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Department of Transportation, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, State Coastal Conservancy, Department of Fish and Game, Department of Food and Agriculture, and State Parks.


Publication Date: 2012

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Susanne C. Moser
  • Julia Ekstrom
  • Guido Franco

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

States Affected:


Go To Resource