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Interactive Tool Provides Actionable Climate Data to Help Scientists and Planners

SACRAMENTO - (August 25, 2015) - An application that shows how climate change could alter ecosystems in the California desert and the natural range of birds, fish, and mammals was released today by the California Energy Commission.

The Climate Console provides information that can improve landscape-level planning to better account for climate change. It was developed by the Conservation Biology Institute (CBI)—which provides science-based solutions that support efforts to preserve biological diversity—and leverages Data Basin, a web-based geospatial data management and mapping platform. Both tools are populated with the results of 20 climate change models that can be added to, downloaded and combined to show how environmental variables—such as temperatures, precipitation and aridity—are expected to shift as the climate changes.

"The Climate Console provides information that local, state, and federal agencies can customize and use to identify vulnerabilities, develop comprehensive and flexible plans and facilitate coordinated planning efforts," said California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas.

The Climate Console can support state agencies' climate adaptation efforts that are an important companion to climate change mitigation goals established in Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s April Executive Order. That order called for a greenhouse gas reduction goal 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, the most aggressive carbon reduction target in North America.

While it is impossible to predict how land, vegetation, species, and weather patterns will definitively respond to climate change, the Climate Console shows where models diverge and agree, and allows users to compare the results of different models to better understand the range of how climate change could play out. It allows users to delve into the underlying science and add their own data to customize outputs and answer specific questions.

"We can use the Climate Console to better design, compare and modify various strategies to improve our conservation planning efforts," said Kevin Hunting, Chief Deputy Director of California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "This will help us refine our approach to better protecting California's natural resources for future generations."

The Commission worked with CBI to develop the console and make available the climate information that was used by the Renewable Energy Action Team—the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Energy Commission—to prepare the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and provide a tool for implementing it.

The plan covers 22.5 million acres in seven counties—Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego—and will help provide protection of desert ecosystems while identifying the most appropriate areas for renewable energy development. The Console currently covers the DRECP region and is being expanded statewide.

California has other modeling tools that show expected climate change impacts. Cal-Adapt features interactive maps, charts and user-friendly information that illustrates possible effects at the local level. Data in Cal-Adapt and the Climate Console can be downloaded for further analysis, and updated versions of the tools will be linked later this year making it easy for users to share and add data.

The Climate Console is available at http://drecp.consbio.webfactional.com/climate.

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