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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Climate Change and Flood Operations in the Sacramento Basin, California


Climate warming is likely to challenge many current conceptions and regulatory policies, particularly for water management. A warmer climate is likely to hinder flood operations in California’s Sacramento Valley by decreasing snowpack storage and increasing the rain fraction of major storms. This work examines how a warmer climate would change flood peaks and volumes for nine major historical floods entering Shasta, Oroville, and New Bullards Bar reservoirs, using current flood flow forecast models and current flood operating rules. Shasta and Oroville have dynamic flood operation curves that accommodate many climate-warming scenarios. New Bullards Bar’s more static operating rule performs poorly for these conditions. Revisiting flood operating rules is an important adaptation for climate warming.

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