One of the dominant challenges for California’s future will be its changing climate as a result of human-induced alterations of natural landscapes and global climatic disruption. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has prepared 50-year forecasts for regional climate change in both California and San Diego. From these studies, it appears that there will be severe disruptions to water availability, growing threats from wildfires, and increased erosion, flooding and pollution of coastal regions. These threats will place extra burdens on California’s already financially strained emergency-response forces – groups with whom Calit2 has extensively collaborated in its first decade.
We believe the digital transformation of monitoring and modeling the environment can provide solutions to this challenge. Currently, emergency response is focused on reacting to individual wildfires, droughts and storms, supported by regulations for longer-term trends. But IT and telecom technology is rapidly moving toward a transformation in which we can create realistic digital “mirror worlds”—dynamic digital representations of the physical environment. Working within these virtual worlds will enable planners, response teams, and the public to better understand the most likely areas for future wildfire outbreak, water shortages, and coastal damage. By proactive response using this advanced knowledge, the impact of these threats can be considerably reduced.