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Posts Tagged: Faith Kearns

Building climate change into the work of UCANR

Snowmelt fills the South Yuba River near Emigrant Gap in March 2016. Climate change is expected to reduce the Sierra snowpack, resulting in major shifts in the timing and magnitude of flows in rivers fed by snowmelt.

UC Cooperative Extension researchers convey need for more climate change communication and curriculum tools

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from natural and working lands is one of California's key climate change strategies. In particular, the potential for farm and rangeland soils to serve as carbon sinks has been getting a lot of attention lately in the national media — and during California Healthy Soils week, which wrapped up Dec. 7.

These are areas where UC Cooperative Extension, with its local presence across the state, is well-positioned to drive change. But as a recent survey of UCCE advisors, specialists and faculty found, while there is a good deal of climate work happening, there are also some significant obstacles.

The survey results — reported in an article by UCCE academics Ted Grantham, Faith Kearns, Susie Kocher, Leslie Roche and Tapan Pathak in the latest issue of California Agriculture — showed that while nearly 90 percent of respondents believe it is important to incorporate climate science into extension programming, only 43 percent currently do so.

Results from the UC ANR climate science, outreach, and needs survey.

Respondents pointed to a number of issues. One was "limited familiarity with climate science fundamentals." It's one thing to cite the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and is being driven largely by human activity; it is another to be able to respond quickly and convincingly to detailed questions from doubters. This list from Grist, for instance, details more than 100 common arguments raised by climate skeptics, many of which have non-trivially complex answers.

Another important issue cited by respondents was "fear of alienating clientele by talking about a contentious topic," a response that highlights the importance of personal relationships in UCCE's work, and the challenge of communicating an area of science that is highly politicized.

The authors conclude: "To further increase the capacity of UC ANR staff to support the needs of their clientele and the broader public, professional development around climate science fundamentals, communication, and adaptation strategies is critical." As an initial follow-up, the UCANR climate change program team (led by authors Grantham, Kocher and Pathak) is presenting a workshop and professional development meeting for extension professionals in February.

For more from California Agriculture, the research journal of UCANR, see the full issue with articles on mapping soil salinity in the San Joaquin Valley via satellite; choosing forage seed mixes for rangeland restoration; growing oilseeds in winter without irrigation; keeping dairy cows cool in the summer; breeding better carrots; and more.



Posted on Friday, December 8, 2017 at 10:45 AM
  • Author: Jim Downing

Five facts that make the California drought a complex problem

January 2014/2015 drought comparison. Today, 94 percent in 'severe' or worse, a year ago, 88 percent in same.
2014 was California's hottest year ever, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the state is beginning a fourth year of drought.

“Even recent large storms, while welcome, have not made much of a dent in the state's water deficit after several hot, dry years. This drought, ongoing for three years and counting, presents several complex, important issues,” writes Faith Kearns, Ph.D., a water analyst for the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' California Institute for Water Resources.

So what makes dealing with drought in California so complex?

Kearns has written “5 Key Facts about the California Drought—and 5 Ways We're Responding to It” to provide some answers to that question.

  1. California's depends on water from the winter snowpack to get through California's dry summers.
  2. Lynn Ingram, professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California, Berkeley found that the state has previously experienced periods of prolonged drought and may be entering another dry period.
  3. Global climate change seems to be exacerbating the drought.
  4. Pumping groundwater to compensate for the shortage of surface water for agriculture has softened the economic impact of the drought, but is having detrimental effects on residents whose wells have dried up. Groundwater depletion is also causing land to sink.
  5. People and animals are suffering. “Some areas of the state where people have been the hardest hit are also the poorest, creating cumulative stressors and threatening livelihoods,” writes Kearns. “Furthermore, wildlife and ecosystems have been severely impacted by the drought.”

She also writes about five ways California is dealing with the drought: through legislation, spending on water projects such as water storage, reducing reliance on water transfers from other regions, managing water more efficiently and raising community awareness.

“The state's universities have been holding workshops and offering training opportunities for communities hit hard by drought, agriculture and ranching,” Kearns writes. “People are starting to realize the scale of change necessary and are joining together in non-traditional alliances.”

You can read Kearns' complete drought article on Hippo Reads.

The Public Policy Institute of California is holding a conference on managing drought on January 12 in Sacramento. The event, supported by the California Water Foundation, will bring together university researchers, legislators, farmers, environmentalists, regulators and other stakeholders together to discuss the drought, water management and policy. To register for the event webcast, visit You can follow the conference on Twitter with the hashtag #ppicwater.

For a list of UC drought resources and upcoming events, visit You can follow the California Institute for Water Resources on Twitter@ucanrwater.

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2015 at 9:17 AM
  • Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Tags: climate change (89), drought (163), Faith Kearns (7)

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