Greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions are lengthening and intensifying droughts

Irvine, Calif., May 17, 2021 — Greenhouse gases and aerosol pollution emitted by human activities are responsible for increases in the frequency, intensity and duration of droughts around the world, according to researchers at the University of California, Irvine. In a study published recently in Nature Communications, scientists in UCI’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering showed that over the past century, the likelihood of stronger and more long-lasting dry spells grew in the Americas, the Mediterranean, western and southern Africa and eastern Asia.

UCI researchers identify primary causes of Greenland’s rapid ice sheet surface melt

Irvine, Calif., May 5, 2021 — Intense, wide-spread melting events in Greenland, such as one in July 2012 that touched nearly every part of the massive island’s frozen slab, are catastrophic, but they still account for only a small portion of the total deterioration of the ice sheet, according to researchers at the University of California, Irvine.

UCI-led study uses plankton genomes as global biosensors of ocean ecosystem stress

Irvine, Calif., April 15, 2021 — By analyzing gains and losses in the genes of phytoplankton samples collected in all major ocean regions, researchers at the University of California, Irvine have created the most nuanced and high-resolution map yet to show where these photosynthetic organisms either thrive or are forced to adapt to limited quantities of key nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and iron.

Up-trending farming and landscape disruptions threaten Paris climate agreement goals

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 27, 2021 — One of President Joe Biden’s first post-inauguration acts was to realign the United States with the Paris climate accord, but a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Irvine demonstrates that rising emissions from human land-use will jeopardize the agreement’s goals without substantial changes in agricultural practices.

Increasing ocean temperature threatens Greenland’s ice sheet

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 25, 2021 — Scientists at the University of California, Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have for the first time quantified how warming coastal waters are impacting individual glaciers in Greenland’s fjords. Their work is the subject of a study published recently in Science Advances. Working under the auspices of the Oceans Melting Greenland mission for the past five years, the researchers used ships and aircraft to survey 226 glaciers in all sectors of one of Earth’s largest islands.

UCI researchers: Climate change will alter the position of the Earth’s tropical rain belt

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 18, 2021 — Future climate change will cause a regionally uneven shifting of the tropical rain belt – a narrow band of heavy precipitation near the equator – according to researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions. This development may threaten food security for billions of people.

UCI, Tsinghua U.: California’s 2018 wildfires caused $150 billion in damages

Irvine, Calif., Dec. 7, 2020 — In 2018, California wildfires caused economic losses of nearly $150 billion, or about 0.7 percent of the gross domestic product of the entire United States that year, and a considerable fraction of those costs affected people far from the fires and even outside of the Golden State. For a study published today in Nature Sustainability, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, China’s Tsinghua University and other institutions combined physical, epidemiological and economic models to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of the blazes.

Pandemic lockdowns caused steep and lasting carbon dioxide decline

An international team of climate experts, including Earth system scientists at the University of California, Irvine, today released an assessment of carbon dioxide emissions by industry, transportation and other sectors from January through June, showing that this year’s pandemic lockdowns resulted in a 9 percent decline from 2019 levels.

UCI, others see agriculture as major source of increase in atmospheric nitrous oxide

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 8, 2020­ – An international team of researchers – including Earth system scientists at the University of California, Irvine – recently completed the most thorough review yet of nitrous oxide from emission to destruction in the planet’s atmosphere. In addition to confirming that the 20 percent increase in the amount of the greenhouse gas since the start of the Industrial Revolution can be totally attributed to humans, the team expressed doubt about the ability to reduce emissions or mitigate their future impacts.

A Watershed Study for Wetland Restoration

Amy Borde and coauthors at PNNL’s Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory developed a new predictive modeling tool for estuarine–tidal river research and management. A decade in the making, the innovative framework provides a means for understanding how both natural and human forces govern hydrology and plant communities in these complex wetland ecosystems, now and into the future.

China’s ecological restoration projects deplete terrestrial water stores

Irvine, Calif., Sept. 10, 2020 – Through concerted, policy-driven efforts, China has converted large swaths of desert into grassland over the past few decades, but this success has come at a cost. In a study published recently in Nature Sustainability, scientists at the University of California, Irvine report that the Asian nation’s environmental reclamation programs have substantially diminished terrestrially stored water.

UCI and international institutions link Southeast Asia megadrought to drying in Africa

Irvine, Calif., Aug. 21, 2020 – Physical evidence found in caves in Laos helps tell a story about a connection between the end of the Green Sahara – when once heavily vegetated Northern Africa became a hyper-arid landscape – and a previously unknown megadrought that crippled Southeast Asia 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. In a paper published today in Nature Communications, scientists at the University of California, Irvine, the University of Pennsylvania, William Paterson University of New Jersey and other international institutions explain how this major climate transformation led to a shift in human settlement patterns in Southeast Asia, which is now inhabited by more than 600 million people.

Ending coronavirus lockdowns quickly can be more costly than relaxing them gradually

Irvine, Calif., June 3, 2020 — “We’re all in this together” is a commonly heard phrase during this global pandemic, as much of the world practices social distancing. And now researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions have shown that there is some scientific validity to this assertion. In a study published today in Nature Human Behaviour, Chinese, European, American and British researchers demonstrate that the number of countries implementing COVID-19 lockdown measures – and the duration of those efforts – have a greater influence on the gross domestic products of nations than the severity of the restrictions.

Global glacier melt raises sea levels and depletes once-reliable water source

Irvine, Calif., June 1, 2020 – The melting of glaciers and ice caps in places as diverse as the Himalayas and Andes mountain ranges, the Svalbard island group and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago has the dual effect of raising global sea levels and depleting freshwater resources that serve millions of people around the world.

East Antarctica’s Denman Glacier has retreated almost 3 miles over last 22 years

Irvine, Calif., March 23, 2020 – East Antarctica’s Denman Glacier has retreated 5 kilometers, nearly 3 miles, in the past 22 years, and researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are concerned that the shape of the ground surface beneath the ice sheet could make it even more susceptible to climate-driven collapse.

Greenland shed ice at unprecedented rate in 2019; Antarctica continues to lose mass

Irvine, Calif., March 18, 2020 – During the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice, enough to raise global sea levels by 2.2 millimeters in two months. On the opposite pole, Antarctica continued to lose mass in the Amundsen Sea Embayment and Antarctic Peninsula but saw some relief in the form of increased snowfall in Queen Maud Land, in the eastern part of the continent.

California’s strict air quality regulations help farmers prosper, UCI-led study finds

Irvine, Calif., March 16, 2020 – Farmers in California’s Central Valley are not known for their love of government regulations, but those same growers have seen a boost in the productivity of their high-value crops – and greater earnings – as a result of the Golden State’s strict air pollution controls. For a study published today in Nature Food, researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions conducted a statistical analysis of pollution exposure and yields from 1980 to 2015 on a key sector making up about 38 percent of the state’s total agricultural output: perennial crops such as almonds, grapes, nectarines, peaches, strawberries and walnuts.

Contradicting prevalent view, UCI oceanographers predict increase in phytoplankton

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 27, 2020 – A neural network-driven Earth system model has led University of California, Irvine oceanographers to a surprising conclusion: Phytoplankton populations in low-latitude waters will expand by the end of the 21st century. The unexpected simulation outcome runs counter to the longstanding belief by many in the environmental science community that global climate change will make tropical oceans inhospitable to phytoplankton, which form the base of the aquatic food web.

UCI-led team releases high-precision map of Antarctic ice sheet bed topography

Irvine, Calif., Dec. 12, 2019 – A University of California, Irvine-led team of glaciologists has unveiled the most accurate portrait yet of the contours of the land beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet – and, by doing so, has helped identify which regions of the continent are going to be more, or less, vulnerable to future climate warming.

Plant physiology will be major contributor to future river flooding, UCI study finds

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 21, 2019 – The next time a river overflows its banks, don’t just blame the rain clouds. Earth system scientists from the University of California, Irvine have identified another culprit: leafy plants. In a study published today in Nature Climate Change, the UCI researchers describe the emerging role of ecophysiology in riparian flooding.

UCI-led team creates first high-resolution global map of surface ocean phosphate

Irvine, Calif., Aug. 28, 2019 – An international team of Earth system scientists and oceanographers has created the first high-resolution global map of surface ocean phosphate, a key mineral supporting the aquatic food chain. In doing so, the University of California