Research and Outreach Projects
OverviewIn a study of forest management and water yields, in collaboration with several non-profit agencies, University of California researchers are undertaking a three-part, multi-year, multi-disciplinary project to research and assess issues related to climate change, vegetation manipulation, and the forest water cycle in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The Sierras harbor globally distinctive forest resources that deliver hydropower and water supply to downstream users in California and elsewhere. Observational and high resolution modeling studies of snowpack and water, utilizing data collected since 1930, paint a picture of significant decreases in snowpack and runoff in the Sierra Nevada Mountains due to increased green house gases. By the mid-21st century, considerable decreases in snow water equivalence are projected. This research will continue to run atmospheric models to predict water resource availability in California. The Creek Carbon project is analyzing riparian restoration areas which provide above- and below-ground carbon sequestration pools and nitrogen uptake in ecosystems to reverse deteriorating in-stream water quality. Soil and vegetation analyses of restored sites will provide comprehensive documentation of the role of riparian revegetation on soil and vegetative carbon and nitrogen cycling.
Spatial analysis of irrigation efficiencies is critical to implementation of water conservation strategies as climate changes over time. This study uses geographic information systems to spatially present and manage data on transpiration ratios, surface soil retention and evaporation rates, and local weather conditions. With this easily manipulated data, trends are being identified to adjust irrigation methods to fit specific crop needs.
Food safety is a rapidly evolving field that requires scientific-based understanding of how to manage food risks in diverse environments. A multi-tiered, multi-level education program, targeting growers, auditors, food safety professionals, and buyers is designed to allow on-farm management decisions to be made with full understanding of the impacts on ecosystem services (including water quality and riparian/wildlife systems). The program involves industry, government, academia, extension, and the environmental community with the commitment to deliver outreach and education programs to protect ecosystem services and human health while sustaining the economic viability of farming operations.
Monitoring hydroclimate extremes is helping decision makers engaged relief efforts to reduce famine in developing countries. UC Santa Barbara, in collaboration with the US Geological Survey and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, have been investigating and monitoring the physical and social variables affecting food security and growing practices.
In collaboration with the Insititute, UC academics provide solutions to address water-related issues in California. Our diverse clientele includes farm, nursery, ranch, and rangeland operators and managers; allied industry professionals; public agency representatives; and members of the public. The Institute leverages federal investment to focus its attention on the most critical water issues addressing the state and coordinates research and extension efforts to address those issues.