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Unformatted text preview: Aaron Kwan TA: Elizabeth Sedano | WED 12PM GEOG 265: The Water Planet San Francisco Bay Watershed Although typically known for its city lights and tourist attractions, the city of San Francisco is also home to one of the most productive and diverse habitats in the world. Where the Central Valley’s freshwater meets the salty waves of the Pacific, the San Francisco Bay estuary is certainly the primary feature of the region’s watershed. The watershed consists of all surface- and ground water on its surrounding landscape, and has the responsibility of bringing the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers to the ocean. In fact, the region acts as the sole drainage channel of the Central Valley’s fresh water to the coast. And with the area located just between California’s northern and southern mountain ranges, it seems the San Francisco Bay watershed truly exists at the heart of the state. However, along with its complex environment and constantly evolving population come many obstacles and challenges, and the citizens of the San Francisco Bay region face the difficult task of overcoming the inevitable forces of nature. A 1,200 mi 2 expanse, the San Francisco Bay watershed exists in a relatively moderate climate, with average temperatures ranging from 46 degrees Fahrenheit in the depth of winter to 71 degrees in its warmest month, September (“Monthly Averages”). Being on the coast of California, the region’s inhabitants enjoy considerably cooler temperatures than their inland counterparts. Because land has a much lower specific heat capacity than water, it absorbs heat much faster than its liquid counterpart. Therefore, the summer temperatures inland are typically 15-20 degrees higher than near the coast. The opposite is also true—land releases heat much faster than water, leading to inland winter temperatures several degrees colder than the San Francisco Bay region. This slow, steady release of heat from the coastal waters allows for more a stable climate year- round. In addition to water’s effect on coastal temperatures, there have also been an increasing number of studies based on the effect of wind patterns on these climates. Because different parts of the earth warm up and cool down at different rates, the usual patterns of pressure and wind are disrupted (Vance). This disruption has created higher- pressure systems inland and lower-pressure systems on the coast, leading to the temperature differences experienced in the San Francisco Bay region and surrounding area. Although there are certainly distinct characteristics of the region’s temperature, the differences in precipitation are quite marginal. On average, the San Francisco Bay watershed does experience slightly more precipitation than inland California, but only in mere fractions of an inch every month (“Monthly Averages”)....
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This note was uploaded on 12/06/2010 for the course GEOG 265 at USC.