Category Archives: Environment

Understanding and Conserving Planet Earth

In recognition of Earth Day, UC San Diego researchers gathered to discuss a range of perspectives on how the climate, human activities and other forces impact our natural world. Hear from UC San Diego scientists who are leading the way with their work on renewable materials that are paving the path to a sustainable future; building and maintaining natural reserves as living laboratories; how immersing oneself in nature motivates a life of conservation research via an “Earth Connection;” and tackling the impacts of rising CO2, temperature and drought on plants. Join us to hear fresh perspectives on understanding and conserving Planet Earth.

Watch A Deep Look: Earth Day 2021.

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Drought in the West

Climate scientist Julie Kalansky discusses how drought in California and Nevada is a common occurrence, with the attendant water restrictions and threat of severe wildfires bringing the reality of climate change into sharp focus. Future climate projections for the region suggest a trend toward more extremes, including more severe and prolonged drought as well as exceptionally wet years. Learn about the science of drought and how the Scripps-based California Nevada Climate Applications (CNAP) program works to provide drought tracking and early warning in support of drought preparedness and resilience in the face of a changing climate.

Watch Research for Resilience on a Changing Planet – Drought in the West: Research and Scientific Tools for Coping with Climate Change.

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Our Impact on the Earth

“Mother Nature is not happy right now and she’s trying to tell us, in many ways,” says Kimberly Prather, Professor of Climate, Atmospheric Science, and Physical Oceanography at UC San Diego.

New weather patterns and events are causing concern but how do we know these changes are caused by human activity? Climate scientists are looking at trends over time to determine our impact on the planet.

Prather discusses recent CAICE studies aimed at advancing our understanding of how the oceans influence human and planetary health including novel experiments being conducted in a unique ocean-atmosphere simulator.

Watch — How Do We Know Humans are Impacting the Health of Our Planet? – Exploring Ethics

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Bracing for Fire When the Wind Blows

As recent events have shown, strong winds can spell disaster, even without the presence of fire. But when a fire does occur, the ALERTWildfire camera network deployed across the region provides rapid confirmation of emergency wildfire 911 calls, situational awareness, and in the worst-case scenarios, real-time data to help sequence evacuations.

ALERTWildfire is a consortium of three universities: University of Nevada at Reno, UC San Diego, and University of Oregon. During the past three fire seasons (2016-2018), ALERTWildfire provided critical information for over 600 fires, including the Woolsey, Lilac, Wall, Whittier, Thomas, Tule, Woodchuck, Earthstone, Truckee, Draw, Snowstorm, Hot Pot, and Emerald fires; a 2016 arson spree in Lake Tahoe; and hundreds more.

Join Neal Driscoll to learn how California is using technology to help firefighters and improve public preparedness during wildfire disasters.

Watch — Bracing for Fire When the Wind Blows

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The Future of our Oceans

Ours is a water planet. Technology is shaping our uses, both as foe and ally. It has made humans the dominant predator and provides us food, gives us half the oxygen we breathe and created many maritime jobs. But technology has also raised CO2 levels, caused acidic oceans, threatened ocean biodiversity and created grand climate challenges.

Marine biologists like Doug McCauley at UC Santa Barbara are also using technology to promote ocean health and provide a balance. In this talk, McCauley describes examples of technology used to help the oceans and marine biodiversity. He shows systems that track whale activity and communicate it to ships so they know where to slow down to avoid collisions. He describes technology to monitor marine protected areas, image recognition techniques to study the endangered giant sea bass and electronic tags to follow sharks.

McCauley began his career as a fisherman in the Port of Los Angeles. Eventually he migrated to marine science and UC Santa Barbara. McCauley has degrees in political science and biology from the UC Berkeley. His PhD research was done at Stanford University where he studied the ecology of sharks, giant parrotfish, and coral reef ecosystems. McCauley’s science is motivated by the belief that we must better understand how complex ocean ecosystems work if we want to better protect them from threats like overfishing, climate change, and pollution.

Watch — Technology: Friend or Foe for the Future of our Oceans

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