No Water? Now What? Understanding the Implications of the Climate-Drought-Water Nexus for Underrepresented Minorities in California's San Joaquin Valley

Authors: Veronica Hanway*, University of Wyoming, Jacqueline Shinker, University of Wyoming, Nicholas Crane, University of Wyoming
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Environmental Perception, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Climate Change, Drought, Critical Physical Geography, Minorities, Clean Water Access
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 4.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Landscapes produced by the nexus between climate change, drought, and (socially-differentiated) clean water access in the western United States are now challenging understandings of human-environment relations and policy solutions at multiple scales. Droughts and rising temperatures are linked with climate change and, in the Western US, impact water availability and quality; agriculture; natural resources; and the diverse livelihoods of people. As the “Fruit Basket of the World,” the San Joaquin Valley in California is home to over three million people and produces over four hundred agricultural commodities for international markets. What happens in the San Joaquin Valley impacts lives locally, nationally, and internationally because of its agricultural productivity. To effectively prepare for future climate changes, an in-depth understanding of what happens in the atmosphere and on the surface in terms of climate processes, resource management, environmental policy, and land-management practices are needed. Through a critical physical geography framework, this research merges modern climate science and qualitative social research to identify how climate processes in the atmosphere and the surface are impacting drought, clean water access, and the experiences of minoritized peoples in the San Joaquin Valley. A combination of semi-structured interviews, participation observation, and archival research will show how the drought in California shapes the experiences of minorities in terms of access to clean water. Results from the North American Regional Reanalysis show record high temperatures supported persistent atmospheric ridge conditions leading to decreased precipitation rates during the winter months (December-February) creating water shortages in California during the 2011-2015 drought.

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