Sacramento, California, USA – Climate Impacts

This page is about how the changing climate will impact Sacramento over the coming decades.

1.0 People in Sacramento can adapt, right?

1.1 Will there be enough drinking water for Sacramento?

1.2 Sacramento is tinder for epic wildfires.

1. Impacts: People in Sacramento will probably survive, somehow, because people can adapt to anything. Right?

1.1 People in Sacramento might not get enough drinking water.

This is a map of San Francisco Bay area, including all the rivers and streams that flow down into it from the mountains above Sacramento. Map.

Set on a freshwater delta upriver from an ocean bay, Sacramento’s signature climate worry is saltwater flooding. On a map, Sacramento looks to be so far inland from the Pacific Ocean, you’d think it couldn’t possibly be affected by the rising sea. But the complex network of streams and canals and wetlands that Sacramento sits on is effectively an an inland extension of the San Francisco Bay. The Bay is rising with the warming Pacific Ocean. The salty ocean water will be pushing further and further into the area around Sacramento, where several rivers (freshwater) meet.

This is a big sign warning about the rising sea, held up by protesters outside the Capitol in Sacramento. Photo.

Saltwater contaminates freshwater, making it unsuitable for drinking or farming. Without monumental infrastructure improvements for saltwater inundation, huge swaths of Sacramento Valley farmland will be lost. Vast populated regions south of Sacramento will need to have water pumped from further upstream in the Sierra Mountains. Problem is, the Sierra’s dwindling snowpack is holding less and less water for the region’s growing 10,000,000s (tens of millions) of people. And less water will be causing billions of dollars worth of food to not be grown.

Regional newspaper: How climate change could threaten the water supply for millions of Californians.

1.2 Sacramento’s drying landscape makes the city tinder for epic wildfires.

This shows a thick blanket of forest fire smoke obscuring the view of downtown Sacramento. Photo.

Pictured here is Downtown Sacramento smothered in thick forest-fire smoke.

California’s fire season has been getting more and more extreme, by far, during the 2010s. In nearby Paradise, CA, 85 people died, and 19,000 homes and 27 downtown businesses were reduced to ash in November 2018. The timing and severity of the fires are attributable to the warming atmosphere. The fire season in California used to be something that only happened during the warmer months of the year. Now, all year long, places like verdant Sacramento are subject to monster wildfires.

City document: Climate Vulnerability Assessment for the Sacramento County Climate Action Plan: Communitywide Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (2017).