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Research

SNRI Researchers are on the cutting edge of environmental research from the Sierra to the sea and beyond. Selected current projects and initiatives are highlighted below

 

Labor and Automation in California Agriculture (LACA) is a UC Multicampus Research Program Initiative (Merced, Davis, Berkeley, Riverside, and ANR) Initiative assembling interdisciplinary researchers with the common aim of creating environmentally sustainable agri-food systems and transforming the workforce through human-centered automation and artificial intelligence.  

Food Resiliency through Equity, Sustainability, & Health (FRESH) is a newly funded initiative at UC Merced that focuses on designing and building a 45-acre experimental smart farm at the nexus of agricultural technology, environmental sustainability, and the future of farm work.   

UC Center for Climate Justice (UC CCJ) - The CCJ is a University of California initiative to address climate change as a social justice and equity issue. The Center’s mission is to leverage and harness the power of the university to support, strengthen, and build an emergent climate justice ecosystem and social movement that solves the climate crisis through science, systems thinking, and social-ecological justice.  

Center for Ecosystem Climate Solutions (CECS) - The CECS is supporting the state’s land management needs through data-driven science and technology. CECS is powered by a team of nearly 50 scientists at 8 research institutions, with support from partners at state and federal agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector, all working together with the goal of developing thoroughly evaluated, open-source data products to inform and optimize land management decisions.  

Addressing California Communities Doubly Vulnerable to Catastrophic Wildfires is a UC Multicampus Research Program Initiative (Merced, Berkeley, and UCLA) working with organizations representing vulnerable communities and tribal groups to develop a spatial database of doubly vulnerable communities; an assessment of pre-fire planning and post-fire recovery; and develop an interactive, Web-based toolkit for communities, agencies and nonprofits to support and empower doubly vulnerable populations.  

Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (SSCZO) – While NSF’s SSCZO program officially ended in Nov 2020, this UC Merced led initiative produced detailed hydrologic observations on the Southern Sierra Nevada mountain front. The SSCZO’s extensive ground- and air-based data base continued to advance our understanding of the hydrology and climate change. Measurements at the San Joaquin Experimental Range and Soaproot Saddle sites continue as part of the National Ecological Observation Network (NEON).   

American River Hydrologic Observatory is a next generation outcome of the Southern Sierra CZO research that is producing data for a better understanding and more accurate hydrologic and hydroelectric forecasting in the watershed above Sacramento.  

The Solar AquaGrid Project – The Solar AquaGrid project will perform pilot tests on the use of California canals to house solar panels. Estimates show the potential to generate 13 gigawatts of solar power, roughly half the projected new capacity needed by 2030 to meet the state’s decarbonization goals. The full-scale project could also save as much as 63 billion gallons of water annually from reduced evaporation losses, which is comparable to the amount needed to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland or meet the residential water needs of more than 2 million people.   

Climatology Lab provides useful analytical tools (Climate Toolbox, Climate Engine) and data products (Gridmet, Terraclimate) for studying climate and parameterizing models to project future climate conditions.  

The Climate & Wildfire Institute - UC Merced is a key participant in this 501c3 non-profit organization of UC researchers delivering climate and wildfire related research services to decision makers and convening research and practitioner communities in academia, government, and the private sector to sustain agile knowledge development that is responsive to public policy needs. Recent $7M funding in the state budget brings this institute closer to its realization of a leadership site at Lake Tahoe and an additional regional hub in southern California. 

Fresno Future of Food Corridor (“F3”) – $30 million in state funds were recently allocated to establish an innovative, world-class center devoted to promoting sustainable agriculture and jobs in the Central Valley. The project is a joint collaboration of the University of California, Merced; Fresno State; the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and the Central Valley Community Foundation.