Are we beyond the brink? With months of oppressive heat and unrelenting fires – the fingerprint – or perhaps the firm boot print – of climate change is planted on California as global warming marches on to change everything about the future.
“Adequate water for food for the nation is a water security issue, and it’s also a national security issue,” says UC Merced CITRIS researcher Roger Bales.
Drought, climate change, an aging infrastructure and growing population threaten the water California’s San Joaquin Valley uses to supply most of the nation’s produce and a large proportion of its livestock and dairy. This excerpt from a new documentary previews an examination of water problems and solutions across the United States and globally.
The 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.
At 12 years old, Los Angeles resident Mario Trejo saw only one path for himself – to follow his brothers into gangs. But by his senior year in high school, good grades and an interest in medicine led Mario to follow the encouragement of his teachers and apply to the University of California, which changed the course of his life.
But it wasn’t until his junior year at UC Merced that Mario realized what he thought was an impossible dream — the chance to study in Florence, Italy. During his semester abroad, Trejo studied Italian, found inspiration in the romantic settings and, most important of all, was able to truly transcend his difficult history and realize the extent of what he was capable.
There’s nothing more uncomfortable than getting into a piping hot car that’s been sitting in the sun for hours. Would it help to know that at least some of that heat was generating energy for you?
That’s what the UC Merced researchers in the latest episode of UCTV Prime Cuts are working on and it’s a pretty cool way to make the sun’s energy work for you.
As you’ll see in the video, the research team has redesigned luminescent solar concentrators to be more efficient at sending sunlight to solar cells, allowing for much less cost-prohibitive solar panels to be used in new places — like the windows of your car while it bakes in the sun.
In the UCTV Prime series “Our Digital Life,” we’ve covered how 3-D digital technology is changing the way look at our past and understand our present.
In the third and final episode, we get a glimpse at the future through the eyes of UC Merced scientists and students using 3-D imaging usually reserved for Hollywood blockbusters to break new ground in the study of nanomaterials and reinvent how technology is used the classroom and the lab to teach and train the researchers of the future.