Region Inland Deserts


The Inland Deserts region includes Imperial County and the desert regions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Containing both the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, it has the largest amount of federally protected lands in the state – 7,448 square miles of National Parks and Monuments, including important wildlife refuges and unique ecosystems. The Inland Deserts region has 1 million inhabitants, with 85% living in urbanized areas including the Victor Valley in San Bernardino County, the Coachella Valley in Riverside County, and the El Centro Metropolitan Area in Imperial County. The Inland Deserts region’s economy is driven by tourism and agricultural lands, and is bolstered by transportation, logistics and warehousing, and real estate development, which includes housing and renewable energy.


The region is known for its extreme heat, with a high frequency of relatively extremely hot days. Like other regions, specific climate conditions vary depending on elevation. The extreme heat of the Inland Deserts region will become more extreme under climate change, where temperatures are expected to increase by 8-14°F by 2100. The number of extremely hot days per year in the region is also projected to increase.


Historically, precipitation averages 5 inches per year, but can vary in amount and location from year-to-year. Annual average precipitation is not expected to change under climate change, but like other regions, the dry periods will likely become drier and the wet periods wetter. Warmer and drier conditions may increase the likelihood of severe drought in this region, as well as stress an already-limited regional water supply.


Wildfire activity could potentially increase for the Inland Deserts region depending on vegetation changes and the growth of invasive grasses, which serve as the major fuel for wildfire in the region. Inland desert vegetation growth is driven by precipitation, which will remain highly variable for this region.

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