Climatic Change

, Volume 109, Supplement 1, pp 505–531 | Cite as

Climate change-related impacts in the San Diego region by 2050

  • Steven MessnerEmail author
  • Sandra C. Miranda
  • Emily Young
  • Nicola Hedge


This paper explores what the San Diego region may look like in the year 2050 as projected changes in regional climate conditions take place. Focusing on interrelated issues of climate change, sea level rise, population growth, land use, and changes in water, energy, public health, wildfires, biodiversity, and habitat, the paper reviews the potential impacts of a changing climate by 2050 and makes recommendations for changes in planning processes at the local and regional levels to prepare for these impacts. The original research for this study was completed in 2008 by a team of 40 experts from the region including universities, nonprofit organizations, local governments, public sector agencies and private sector entities. This paper has now been updated with more recent research regarding climate change adaptation while preserving the integrity of the original research team’s work. The simulated impacts discussed in this study are based on regional projections of climate change generated by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, employing three climate models and two emissions scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The impacts are discussed in the context of significant regional growth expected during the period as well as an aging population base. Key issues explored in the report include potential inundation of six selected low-lying coastal areas in San Diego due to sea level rise, potential shortfalls in water deliveries, peak energy demand increases due to higher temperatures, growing risk of devastating wildfires, migrations of species in response to higher temperatures in an increasingly fragmented natural habitat, and public health issues associated with extreme temperature events.


Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Variable Infiltration Capacity Coastal Sage Scrub California Energy Commission Annual Electricity Consumption 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper relies heavily on the research conducted in The San Diego Foundation’s Regional Focus 2050 Study (Focus 2050 Study) in 2007–2008, which was conceived of and commissioned by The Foundation’s Environment Program. The Foundation contracted with the University of California, San Diego’s Environment and Sustainability Initiative (ESI) during this period to serve as the project manager for the Focus 2050 Study and The Foundation was the project manager for the subsequent Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program study that was incorporated into the California Climate Change Center’s Second Biannual Assessment of the implications of climate change for the State of California. A team of 40 experts from the region including universities, nonprofit organizations, local governments, public sector agencies and private sector entities collaborated to produce this document. It drew upon current scientific analyses from an array of experts in climate science, demography and urban/regional planning, water, energy, public health and ecology. The Focus 2050 Study for the San Diego region was modeled, in part, on the Focus 2050 study undertaken by King County, Washington.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Messner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sandra C. Miranda
    • 2
  • Emily Young
    • 3
  • Nicola Hedge
    • 3
  1. 1.ENVIRON CorporationNovatoUSA
  2. 2.Energized SolutionsSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.The San Diego FoundationSan DiegoUSA

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