Category Archives: Climate Change

Oceans Out of Breath

Scripps climate scientist Yassir Eddebbar takes you on an exploration of the ocean’s interior to reveal a fascinating phenomenon – oxygen minimum zones (OMZs).

Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) are regions of the global ocean that present low dissolved oxygen concentrations. Although they represent only a small fraction of the global ocean volume, they are considered to be an important sink for fixed nitrogen, contributing 30-50% of the oceanic nitrogen removal. They are important sources of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O), the latter also involved in the destruction of stratospheric ozone.

Focusing on his work in the tropical Pacific, Eddebbar explains what causes OMZs, how they are likely to change in response to climate change, and their potential to impact marine ecosystems and fisheries as climate warms.

Watch Oceans Out of Breath: Oxygen Minimum Zones in a Warming Climate.

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Climate Change Making Allergies Worse

People with allergies know that daily weather determines symptoms and that symptoms vary by season. Dr. Katherine Gundling, an allergy and immunology specialist at UCSF, looks at how the warming of our planet might affect allergic respiratory disease. What is emerging from data collected at pollen counting stations around the world is that the length of pollen season is increasing, starting earlier and ending later, especially in higher latitude and higher elevations. As temperatures increase pollen concentrations rise. And increasing temperature may also cause pollen to be more potent.

There are similar indicators that climate change is increasing mold growth. Of particular concern are indoor molds that propagate in wet environments. As sea levels rise and flooding and humidity increase, so too does mold exposure which can cause severe asthma reactions, especially in children who are more vulnerable.

The good news is that we know what to do. Climate change solutions are also solutions to improving health disparities and allergic respiratory disease.

Watch Impacts of Our Changing Climate on Allergic Respiratory Disease.

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The Future of Food and Agriculture in the Face of Climate Change

California is the top agriculture-producing state in the country, and that big business presents big challenges. California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross addressed many of the key issues during a speech presented by UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.

Secretary Ross talks at length about the impact climate change has already had on the state’s resources and the effects we can expect to see in the future. She says prolonged droughts, like the one California just escaped, will become more common. But, we can also expect more severe flooding. Ross says the state needs to take a big-picture approach to water and land management in order to mitigate future disasters. But, she says there is hope. Agriculture accounts for just eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California, compared to 30 percent worldwide. Ross says her department and private farmers are working on ways to bring down greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in California, and she hopes their progress can serve as a model for sustainable farming worldwide.

Following her speech, Secretary Ross covers everything from immigration reform to the future of agricultural careers in a fascinating Q&A moderated by her former colleague, Executive Director of the Berkeley Food Institute, Ann Thrupp.

Watch California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross

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Sea Star Wasting Disease Update 2017

32822The years from 2013 through 2015 witnessed the largest non-commercial marine mass mortality event on record (as of 2013) as up to 96% of all Ochre Sea Stars on the coasts of California and Oregon perished. This created a ‘natural experiment’ and an opportunity to study genomic changes in wild populations with unprecedented detail. Rather than observing only the aftermath — usually the case in such catastrophes – a team of researchers from UC Merced is reconstructing the population and genetic consequences of this epidemic outbreak of sea star wasting disease. The team measured the abundance and genetic variation of Pisaster ochraceus (the Ochre Sea Star – a keystone species) in the year preceding mass mortality. They then repeated sampling of adults and juveniles in subsequent years, measuring population dynamics and genomic shifts during and after the disease outbreak. At a time when marine diseases and mass mortalities are on the rise, this study documents the impact of little-known wildlife diseases and potential trajectory of recovery in a keystone marine species.

Learn more and watch: Sea Star Wasting Disease Update 2017

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The Water Wars Have Begun

32822The Water Wars are coming – and according to Executive Producer Lynne Kirby, they’re already here.

Concerned about what her daughter would drink in the years ahead, Kirby became passionate about water conservation issues. She knew water was going to be a big issue in the decades to come – that water would be the “oil” of the 21st century.

She pitched the idea of making a documentary of the coming water wars to Alex Gibney, an investigative documentary filmmaker of films about Scientology, WikiLeaks, Enron and others. According to Kirby, Gibney’s the kind of guy who says, I’m coming after you… and you’re going down… and we’re going to peel back the onion and expose you.

Gibney then approached National Geographic who had been looking for a water project and the rest is history. Water & Power: A California Heist unfolds like a real-life version of the 1974 film noir Chinatown and uncovers the ruthless exploits of California’s notorious water barons, who profit off the state’s resources while everyday citizens endure a debilitating water crisis.

Watch Water & Power: Discussion of Documentary with host and UCSB Professor of Film & Media Studies, Constance Penley, and Executive Producer Lynne Kirby to hear more behind-the-scenes stories about this incredible documentary.

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