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  1. Abstract

    Climate change is expected to increase the scarcity and variability of fresh water supplies in some regions with important implications for irrigated agriculture. By allowing for increased flexibility in response to scarcity and by incentivizing the allocation of water to higher value use, markets can play an important role in limiting the economic losses associated with droughts. Using data on water demand, the seniority of water rights, county agricultural reports, high-resolution data on cropping patterns, and agronomic estimates of crop water requirements, we estimate the benefits of market-based allocations of surface water for California’s Central Valley. Specifically, we estimate the value of irrigation water and compare the agricultural costs of water shortages under the existing legal framework and under an alternate system that allows for trading of water. We find that a more efficient allocation of curtailments could reduce the costs of water shortages by as much as $362 million dollars per year or 4.4% of the net agricultural revenue in California in expectation, implying that institutional and market reform may offer important opportunities for adaptation.

  2. Recent dramatic and deadly increases in global wildfire activity have increased attention on the causes of wildfires, their consequences, and how risk from wildfire might be mitigated. Here we bring together data on the changing risk and societal burden of wildfire in the United States. We estimate that nearly 50 million homes are currently in the wildland–urban interface in the United States, a number increasing by 1 million houses every 3 y. To illustrate how changes in wildfire activity might affect air pollution and related health outcomes, and how these linkages might guide future science and policy, we develop a statistical model that relates satellite-based fire and smoke data to information from pollution monitoring stations. Using the model, we estimate that wildfires have accounted for up to 25% of PM 2.5 (particulate matter with diameter <2.5 μm) in recent years across the United States, and up to half in some Western regions, with spatial patterns in ambient smoke exposure that do not follow traditional socioeconomic pollution exposure gradients. We combine the model with stylized scenarios to show that fuel management interventions could have large health benefits and that future health impacts from climate-change–induced wildfire smoke could approach projected overall increasesmore »in temperature-related mortality from climate change—but that both estimates remain uncertain. We use model results to highlight important areas for future research and to draw lessons for policy.« less