UC Climate-Change Research is One Focus of Global Summit, New Reports

Lorena Anderson
September 11, 2018

The full article was originally published on University of California Merced Newsroom

California aims to lead the nation — and the globe — in climate change research, policy and action — in large part through climate-focused research conducted at University of California campuses and labs.

Some of that research, including from UC Merced, will be on display this week as climate-change scientists, policymakers and trailblazers from around the globe gather in San Francisco for the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit .

UC Merced School of Engineering professors Joshua ViersLeRoy Westerling and Josué Medellín-Azuaraand some of their graduate students will be there in support of the research they do, which is also recently highlighted in several prominent reports.

Vicky Espinoza
Graduate student, Vicky Espinoza, will receive 
a special honor for the ImagineH2O fellowship.

The professors and second-year graduate student Vicky Espinoza helped write the San Joaquin Valley section of the Fourth California Climate Change Assessment . The Assessment supports California’s continued leadership on actions to address climate change and safeguard the state’s people, economy and resources by providing tools for decision making and supporting these decisions with sound science. 

This compilation of original climate research includes 44 technical reports and 13 summary reports on climate-change impacts to help ready the state for a future punctuated by severe wildfires, more frequent and longer droughts, rising sea levels, increased flooding, coastal erosion and extreme heat events.

Read the full article on UC Merced Newsroom.

Environmental Systems graduate student Espinoza will receive a special honor, as she was selected as a finalist for the ImagineH2O fellowship for innovation in California water-energy systems as part of the Water Pavilion segment of the Global Climate Summit. She will be a guest at the Water Pavilion and take part in a special dinner roundtable discussion, where she’ll talk about her dissertation project.

Viers nominated her, citing her applied research experience at Argonne National Laboratory, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the UC Water Academy; her engagement with the community through volunteering, mentoring and tutoring; and because of her project, a potential solution to the subject of regional groundwater management.

"Vicky has identified a technologically innovative approach to suggest where agricultural production can optimally persist to meet water availability constraints and minimize local socioeconomic impacts,” Viers wrote in his nomination."

Espinoza said she aims to understand the full implications of the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, including its effects on the San Joaquin Valley’s irrigated lands and how proposed land-use changes will affect already socioeconomically vulnerable communities within the region.

“My research is transdisciplinary in that it seeks to improve regional water and economic security for disadvantaged communities through the use of geospatial technology and informatics by using new, deep-structured learning techniques on heterogeneous data,” she said. “This research, now in its formative stages, will provide insight into sustaining California’s food-energy-water sector and into innovative approaches to policy and technology in California and beyond.”

The San Joaquin Valley-focused regional segment of the statewide Assessment Espinoza helped author is just one of a series of reports being released before, during and after the summit, underlining various ways to address climate change. Medellín-Azuara led one study on statewide agricultural adaptation to climate change that also became part of the Assessment.

Another recent contribution is the “Managing Drought in a Changing Climate: Four Essential Reforms,” written by Medellín-Azuara and Viers for the Public Policy Institute of California. This set of recommendations became public this week, and the regional Assessment report will be live later this month.