By Alex Russell
For poor and subsistence farmers in developing countries, a severe drought, flood or other catastrophe can cost them everything. In response to these kinds of climate-related risks, farmers often choose to minimize their exposure to loss. They might avoid higher-cost improved seeds that promise bigger harvests or riskier but profitable cash crops. Both of these strategies can keep them poor.
Maize farmers in Tanzania. Agricultural index insurance could help small farmers like these invest in higher-value crops and increase their income.
By Amy Quinton
Photosynthesis is one of the most crucial life processes on earth. It’s how plants get their food, using energy from sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide from the air into sugars. It’s long been thought that more than 30 percent of the energy produced during photosynthesis is wasted in a process called photorespiration.
A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Davis, suggests that photorespiration wastes little energy and instead enhances nitrate assimilation, the process that converts nitrate absorbed from the soil into protein.
Study shows plants may not lose energy during photosynthesis. (Getty Images)
By Kat Kerlin
The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.6M to the University of California, Davis to analyze the complex relationships between surface water and groundwater supply, agricultural land use and the economic wellbeing of rural, disadvantaged communities.
The project is led by principal investigator Helen Dahlke, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. The team will develop models to help guide decision-making regarding water management and land use in the state.
Helen Dahlke studies how groundwater is used and replenished in California. (Tiffany Kocis/UC Davis)
by Peter Moyle, Jeff Opperman, Amber Manfree, Eric Larson, and Joan Florshiem
The flooding in Houston is a reminder of the great damages that floods can cause when the defenses of an urban area are overwhelmed. It is hard to imagine a flood system that could have effectively contained the historic amount of rain that fell on the region—several feet in just a few days. However, these floods are a stark reminder of the increasing vulnerability of urban areas across the world and the need for comprehensive strategies to reduce risk. The evidence is clear that green infrastructure, as defined below, can increase the resiliency of flood management systems and, when managed for multiple services, can reduce flood risk for many people while also promoting a range of other benefits.
By Ann Filmer
Goals for carbon reduction from sequestration in soils set in the 2015 Paris Agreement are not feasible, according to an international team of climate scientists. Regardless of whether the U.S. remains part of the Paris climate accord, scientists at the University of California, Davis, are developing additional agricultural methods to offset increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, thereby reducing the potential for global warming.
Subsurface drip irrigation in a tomato field at UC Davis. This irrigation method saves water, reduces fertilizer use and reduces emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. Photo by Martin Burger, UC Davis.
By Becky Oskin
Chronicling Earth’s past temperature swings is a basic part of understanding climate change. One of the best records of past ocean temperatures can be found in the shells of marine creatures called foraminifera.
The foraminiferan Neogloboquadrina dutertrei forms a record of ocean conditions as it builds its shell. Photo by J. Fehrenbacher
Known as “forams” for short, these single-celled plankton build microscopic calcite shells. When forams die, their shells fall to the ocean floor and accumulate in sediments that provide a record of past climate. The surface-feeding plankton are natural thermometers because the chemical makeup of foram shells is linked to the environmental conditions they grow in. For example, the levels of magnesium in foram shells reflect the seawater temperature in which they lived.
Full post: Refining the Ocean’s Thermometer
(512 words, 2 images, estimated 2:03 mins reading time)
Jim Crutchfield wants to teach a machine to “see” in a new way, discovering patterns that evolve over time instead of recognizing patterns based on a stored template.
It sounds like an easy task – after all, any animal with basic vision can see a moving object, decide whether it is food or a threat and react accordingly, but what comes easily to a scallop is a challenge for the world’s biggest supercomputers.
CORI at Lawrence Berkeley Lab is one of the world’s fastest computers. It is named after Gerty Theresa Cori, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. (NERSC/LBL photo)
By Ann Filmer
Plant scientists and wheat breeders now have a new tool to develop more nutritious and productive wheat varieties: A public online database of 10 million mutations in wheat genes. Scientists at UC Davis and three institutions in the UK created the database, which will allow scientists worldwide to study the function of every gene of wheat. The research will be reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.
UC Davis Plant Sciences Professor, Jorge Dubcovsky is working to improve the yield and nutritional value of wheat, one of the world’s most important crops.
By Becky Oskin
For the first time scientists can see how the shells of tiny marine organisms grow atom-by-atom, a new study reports. The advance provides new insights into the mechanisms of biomineralization and will improve our understanding of environmental change in Earth’s past.
Foraminifera are marine plankton with complex shells. The shells of dead forams in ocean sediments form a record of climate hundreds of millions of years into the past.
Led by researchers from the University of California, Davis and the University of Washington, with key support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the team examined an organic-mineral interface where the first calcium carbonate crystals start to appear in the shells of foraminifera, a type of plankton.
By Lorena Anderson, UC Merced
California’s coastal redwoods are one of the state’s most prominent icons, drawing more than 2 million visitors a year. Another prominent icon? Fog, winding its way across the coast and through the trees. Climate change may be impacting both of them.
Climate change may affect the fog that waters California’s iconic coastal redwoods.
While coastal redwoods typically get plenty of water during the winter, fog helps them get through the summer. But fog is on the decline. What that means for the coastal redwoods in currently unclear.