November 11, 2002
Workshop on climate change and water resources
brings together scientists and water agencies
By Tim Stephens
Representatives of state and regional water agencies joined UCSC scientists
last week to discuss "Climate Change and Water Resources Planning."
The meeting was the first of a series of workshops being organized by
UCSC's STEPS Institute for Innovation in Environmental Research. The
workshops will address a variety of issues where there is a need to
integrate science, technology, engineering, policy, and society (the
|Brent Haddad, associate director of the STEPS Institute, organized
the workshop on Climate Change and Water Resources Planning.
Photo: r.r. jones
The main purpose of last week's meeting was to establish a dialogue
between scientists who study regional climate change and the agencies
that manage California's water resources, said Brent Haddad, associate
professor of environmental studies and associate director of the STEPS
"The time has come to have this discussion, and UC Santa Cruz is
uniquely qualified to lead it," Haddad said. "We have the
leading scientists in a number of areas related to regional climate
change impacts, as well as a campuswide research commitment in this
Almost all of the major state and regional water agencies in California
were represented at the meeting, including the State Department of Water
Resources, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the Los Angeles
Department of Water and Power, and the Imperial Irrigation District.
Representatives of federal agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey
"The purpose of this meeting is to take the results of climate
change research from the university and make it available to water resource
managers in a way that they can use," Haddad said. "That requires
a dialogue, because we need to understand how their decisions are made,
and they need to get a feel for what's happening in climate science."
Research by Lisa Sloan, associate professor of Earth sciences, indicates
that global warming will lead to significant changes in rainfall and
snowfall patterns in California over the next 50 to 100 years (see
Sloan recently received a major grant from the National Science Foundation
to establish a computational laboratory--the Climate Change and Impacts
Laboratory--for multidisciplinary research on regional climate change.
She and her colleagues presented their latest findings at the meeting.
Other UCSC researchers who gave presentations include Michael Loik,
a researcher in environmental studies who heads PrecipNet, an international
network of researchers focusing on the impacts of climate change on
precipitation; Weixin Cheng, associate professor of environmental studies,
who studies the effects of rising carbon dioxide concentrations on plants,
soils, and ecosystems; and Bruno Sanso, a visiting associate professor
in applied mathematics and statistics, who studies statistical modeling
of precipitation and climate change. The workshop also included presentations
from various state agencies.
The STEPS Institute was established earlier this year with a $500,000
gift from UCSC alumnus Gordon Ringold. The institute is working to link
environmental research efforts campuswide, bringing together expertise
from a wide range of departments in the natural sciences, social sciences,
and engineering. Core technical facilities on the campus, such as Sloan's
climate change lab, provide a good base for making those links between
faculty in different departments and divisions, said STEPS director
John Thompson, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
In addition, the institute is working to open up communications between
scientists and policy makers through forums such as last week's climate
change workshop, Thompson said.
"This workshop and the others we are planning are attempts to bring
people together in a way that has been talked about a lot but doesn't
actually happen very often," he said. "I'm very pleased at
how fast this has come together."
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