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Adapting to a Changing Climate

Climate change impacts are already visible in Sunnyvale today and we're doing more to be prepared for future threats.

Adapting to a Changing Climate

Climate Impacts in Sunnyvale, 2070-2099

While certain climate impacts may be felt more locally, climate change is a regional and global issue that must be addressed on a regional scale. For example, water from sea-level rise related flooding will find the lowest point regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. The City of Sunnyvale sees climate change as an area where collaboration with regional entities (like Valley Water and United States Army Corps of Engineers) is essential to making progress.

California is projected to have increase heat wave days, drier years, and sea level rise from 2070-2099.
A photo of a wildfire with trees burning in the background

Adapting to a Changing Climate

Other Impacts

Climate change is already changing the weather patterns we have grown accustomed to, and these changes are projected to continue.  Both the rate and intensity of wildfires in California are expected to increase. We could see a 55% increase in the number of wildfires by 2050. Rising temperatures are driving species further north, disrupting water and food supplies, degrading soil health, and negatively affecting aquatic life. Heat waves are also causing public health issues by worsening air quality, increasing vector-borne diseases, and causing heat-related illnesses.

Play 6.1: Assess Climate Vulnerabilities for Sunnyvale

Climate Adaptation

Climate adaptation efforts necessitate regional discussion to ensure actions effectively and efficiently address risks and don’t place adjacent communities in greater harm. In 2015, Santa Clara County brought Sunnyvale and other cities together to develop a Countywide vulnerability assessment tool to assess the potential impact of sea level rise on infrastructure and assets in the County, known as Silicon Valley 2.0. The City will continue to participate in regional discussions, maintain partnerships with key entities leading adaptation efforts, and stay informed about latest climate adaptation innovations.

A body of water with a narrow strip of land in the foreground. Birds appear to be about to take flight from the land mass. Mountains and clouds are in the background.
A narrow body of water with grassy fields on either side. A small group of people stand on the right bank.

Play 6.2: Protect Shoreline Area from Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding

Shoreline Protection

Valley Water began the Shoreline Project in 2005 to provide sea level rise protection in Santa Clara County in partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the State Coastal Conservancy (Conservancy). In addition to work in north San Jose, Valley Water prepared a Preliminary Feasibility Study for the remaining shoreline areas, including those adjacent to Sunnyvale. Sunnyvale staff has remained engaged as a stakeholder in the project and will continue to participate to advocate for a project to protect Sunnyvale’s shoreline.

Play 6.2: Protect Shoreline Area from Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding

Updating Our Plans

The Moffett Park Specific Plan was adopted in 2004 to provide direction on land use, infrastructure, and design in the northernmost portion of the City, which is mainly commercial and industrial. This part of the City is located right along the Bay and is vulnerable to sea level rise. The Moffett Park Specific Plan (MPSP) is currently being updated to include, among other things, considerations to address future sea level rise. In 2020, the City held a public workshop on sea-level rise and climate change to gather community input on the preparation of the MPSP. 

An image of the cover of the Sunnyvale Moffett Park Specific Plan
An infographic with Disaster Management Cycle in the middle. The words "Mitigation" "Preparation" "Recovery" and "Response" are around the center forming a circle.

Play 6.3: Strengthen Community Resiliency

What is Climate Resiliency?

Climate change is bringing more frequent and more severe climate hazards, such as extreme heat, wildfires, and sea level rise. Climate resilience speaks to the ability of a community to prepare for, absorb, recover from, and adapt to climate hazards. The City will focus on short-term preparedness measures our community can take to resist climate impacts, while simultaneously identifying key future vulnerabilities and strategies to address them in the coming years.

Play 6.3: Strengthen Community Resiliency

Emergency Preparedness

The City has emergency response plans for some events like fires and earthquakes, but there are no community-specific plans to address our response to extreme weather events, such as heat waves, intense rainstorms, and flooding from sea level rise. The City is committed to cross-departmental collaboration to expand current community-oriented emergency preparedness plans to respond to such events, with particular attention to vulnerable populations during natural disasters.

An illustration showing various items you might need in an emergency.
A person handing another person a shopping bag and offering a thumbs up gesture. Both are wearing surgical masks

Play 6.3: Strengthen Community Resiliency

Community Resilience Plan

The City will develop a community resilience plan to help all residents and businesses be prepared to weather the storms of climate change. Vulnerable populations, such as elderly, disabled, or low-income residents, will be given special consideration. With careful planning, our community will become more resilient to extreme heat, rain, and flooding events.

Be Part of the Solution

Preparedness is Key

Climate change is creating conditions for sudden emergencies like wildfires as well as long term shifts to warmer and drier conditions. Being prepared for both will help make sure our community continues to thrive in the face of change.

Ensure your household is ready for anything with an emergency preparedness kit
Learn what to do before, during, and after a wildfire
Take steps to prepare for increasingly hot days
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