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California Releases Cal-Adapt 2.0 Upgrade to the State’s Climate Change Geospatial Data Tool

By Erik de Kok, AICP

The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently announced the completion of a major overhaul to the State’s web-based climate change tool known as Cal-Adapt. The release of “Cal-Adapt 2.0” is the first major upgrade and revision to the on-line tool since its initial release in 2011.

Cal-Adapt is the most comprehensive climate change data visualization and download tool available in California and has become a “go-to” resource for understanding the localized effects of climate change in the state. Developed and maintained by the UC Berkeley Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) with funding and oversight by the CEC, Cal-Adapt contains a wealth of data and information produced by California’s scientific and research community on climate change predictions and impacts.

Cal-Adapt 2.0 includes many important new updates and enhancements to align with the latest scientific research, and to enable more robust analysis of climate change impacts and risks to local communities. Highlights are summarized below.

New Climate Projections

Cal-Adapt 2.0 includes new, high-resolution climate projections using the LOCA (Localized Constructed Analogues) downscaling methods developed by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. The new projections align with the suite of global climate models (also known as general circulation models, or GCMs), as well as the emissions scenarios that form the foundation of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest assessment report, the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

The expanded range of models for which projections are available in Cal-Adapt now also includes the four models selected by California state agencies as priority models for research contributing to California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, currently in progress.

Enhanced Visualizations

Cal-Adapt 2.0 includes visualization enhancements that respond to user feedback requested by Cal-Adapt Technical Advisory Committee members, as well as through general user feedback. Examples include expanded boundary choices for aggregation and visualization of data, the ability to investigate disadvantaged communities using CalEnviroScreen, visualization of historical observed data through 2005, and other helpful enhancements.

Improved Access to Data

Cal-Adapt 2.0 now enables access to climate change data through a number of options:

  • New public application programming interface (API), empowering third-party users to develop custom tools that are tailored to their specific applications using Cal-Adapt data.
  • Primary NetCDF data – direct access to data for all 32 models for two representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios (i.e., RCP4.5, RCP8.5), plus historical modeled period and historical observed gridded data.
  • GeoTIFF format – Users can now download data for a user-specified geographic extent and for selected variables, scenario, period (daily vs. annual averages), and GCM in GeoTIFF format from the Data page.
  • Comma-separated values (CSV) download of data shown on charts
  • Direct download of charts and graphs customized by the user, in PNG format

User Feedback

If you’re interested in learning more about Cal-Adapt and how it might help your community or project assess the impacts of climate change, please contact Erik de Kok, Ascent’s Sustainability and Climate Change practice leader, who also serves on the Cal-Adapt Technical Advisory Committee.

Erik participated in a recent User Needs Assessment Workshop hosted by the CEC and GIF staff on the launch of Cal-Adapt 2.0. Participants learned more about the new projections, enhanced visualizations, and data access capabilities, and provided structured feedback on the potential for incorporating new datasets and query capabilities in tandem with the new features to enable more robust use of Cal-Adapt tools in assessing climate vulnerability and adaptation opportunities.

CEC and GIF staff continue to seek feedback from Cal-Adapt users and the public to continue to improve its usability and functionality for climate change research and adaptation planning. Users can provide feedback directly by emailing gro.tpada-lac@troppus, or visiting the Cal-Adapt Help page.

Any Questions?

Erik De Kok, AICP

Erik de Kok, AICP

Director of Interdisciplinary Planning


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