Hotter, dryer summers also would likely lead to an increase in wildfires that endanger citizens' lives and property, said Davis, who studied those concerns.
"There's a real chance that ... wildfires could become more frequent," he said.
The state's magnificent plant and animal populations will be affected as well. Scientists predict a shift of wildlife, forests and grasslands to higher altitudes and more northerly locations. The redwood forests of northern California could be endangered as well as the kelp forests of the southern part of the state. The numbers of disease-carrying rodents -- such as hantavirus carrying mice -- could go up.
Changes are already occurring in the ocean, with declines in zooplankton, sea bird populations and cold-water species of fish being matched by increases warm-water species. And scientists predict if the warming trend continues until 2100, it will be accompanied by an 8- to 10-inch rise in sea level that could inflame already existing problems with storm surge and beach erosion. El Nino and La Nina effects would become more common.
But all is not lost, researchers say. The state's problems might be limited with creative forethought and planning. California might even become a beacon for other governments in mitigating global warming.
"This is a quite detailed report written for policy makers," Melack said. "We want the state of California to do what it does best: be a leader.
"When California does something, people listen. If California says it is going to put limits on automobile exhaust emissions, then people listen because it is a big market."
The report has a list of places to begin.
"We do think that there are steps which can be taken by Californians to reduce the risks," Davis said. "For example, we need to reduce our share of
global carbon dioxide emissions, limit the footprint of future developmen
Contact: Bill Schlotter
University of California - Santa Barbara