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Posted inLife

The Geological Society celebrates Tanya Atwater’s extraordinary career studying plate tectonics and sharing her enthusiasm for discovery

It’s a rare few scientists whose discoveries are so monumental that they leave an indelible mark upon society. Among them is UC Santa Barbara’s Tanya Atwater, who has watched her groundbreaking research transition into common knowledge. Now, the Geological Society of London has awarded Atwater the Wollaston Medal for her contribution to the theory of seafloor spreading and […]

Posted inSci/Tech

UC Santa Barbara geologists lead the effort to describe the devastating eruption in Tonga

On January 15, the volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai devastated the nation of Tonga. The eruption triggered tsunamis as far afield as the Caribbean and generated atmospheric waves that travelled around the globe several times. Meanwhile, the volcano’s plume shot gas and ash through the stratosphere into the lower mesosphere. Just two months after the eruption, […]

Posted inEnviro

Climate scientists reconsider the meaning and implications of drought in light of a changing world

Maps of the American West have featured ever darker shades of red over the past two decades. The colors illustrate the unprecedented drought blighting the region. In some areas, conditions have blown past severe and extreme drought into exceptional drought. But rather than add more superlatives to our descriptions, one group of scientists believes it’s […]

Posted inCalifornia

The Frogs of Baja California

There’s a pandemic sweeping across the globe. No, not COVID, a different one. For decades, a brutal fungal infection has been decimating amphibians worldwide. “We call it a panzootic,” said Andrea Adams(link is external), an assistant researcher in the Earth Research Institute at UC Santa Barbara. “It’s like a pandemic, only with animals.” Scientists are hard […]

Posted inCalifornia

Outwitting Omicron: UCSB Graduate student Zach Aralis develops a rapid test for the COVID-19 Omicron variant

Speed is everything in the race against COVID-19’s Omicron variant, the fastest version of the virus we’ve seen to date. Its dizzying rise to dominance in the United States threatens to overwhelm our already beleaguered healthcare system, as physicians across the country grapple with how to treat their mounting caseloads. But a new lab test […]

Posted inCalifornia

UC Santa Barbara researchers investigate the combined effect of drought and fire on stream communities, highlighting the importance of headwaters

Life is water, and water is life. This truism certainly applies to the Pacific coast, where streams and rivers function as the region’s arteries. The water they carry fosters plant life and wildlife in Southern California’s Mediterranean climate. They provide sanctuary during droughts and often serve as the nexus for recovery after fires. Despite the […]

Posted inCalifornia

Managing Water Resources in a Low-to-No-Snow Future

Mountain snowpacks around the world are in decline. And as the planet continues to warm, climate models forecast that snowpacks will shrink dramatically and possibly even disappear altogether on certain mountains, including in the western United States. A new study by researchers at several institutions, including UC Santa Barbara and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley […]

Posted inCalifornia

Researchers investigate the factors that affected decisions to evacuate during and after the 2018 Montecito debris flow

A new study by UC Santa Barbara researchers speaks to the importance of public awareness programs in keeping residents — and emergency management offices — informed about rare but potentially lethal natural events in their area. The paper, co-authored by geology professor Ed Keller and colleagues Summer Gray, an assistant professor of environmental studies, Keith Clarke, a professor of […]

Posted inSci/Tech

Researchers reveal the growing threat extreme heat poses to urban populations

Between global warming and the urban heat island effect, many of the world’s cities are heating up. In fact, extreme heat already affects almost two billion urban residents worldwide, according to a new study led by former UC Santa Barbara graduate student Cascade Tuholske(link is external). The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of […]

Posted inEnviro

Low oxygen levels are pushing fish into shallower waters, with potentially devastating impacts for fisheries, ecosystems

Fish can drown. While it may not seem like it, fish do require oxygen to breathe; it’s just that they get what they need from the oxygen dissolved in water rather than in the air. Too little oxygen spells trouble for our finned friends, which have to move or else suffer ill effects. Unfortunately, oxygen […]

Posted inCalifornia

Intensive water management in California promotes “live fast, die young” cycle in floodplain forests

Santa Barbara, Calif. June 17, 2021 – Woodlands along streams and rivers are an important part of California’s diverse ecology. They are biodiversity hotspots, providing various ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and critical habitat for threatened and endangered species. But our land and water use have significantly impacted these ecosystems, sometimes in unexpected ways. A […]

Posted inSci/Tech

Sterilizing Skeeters

Mosquitoes are one of humanity’s greatest nemeses, estimated to spread infections to nearly 700 million people per year and cause more than one million deaths. UC Santa Barbara Distinguished Professor Craig Montell(link is external) has made a breakthrough in one technique for controlling populations of Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that transmits dengue, yellow fever, Zika and other viruses. […]

Posted inSci/Tech

Researchers create the first global assessment of cumulative human impacts to at-risk marine species over time

Despite the fact that our planet is mostly ocean and human maritime activity is more intense than it has ever been, we know remarkably little about the state of the ocean’s biodiversity — the variety and balance of species that support healthy and productive ecosystems. And it’s no surprise — marine biodiversity is complex, human impacts […]

Posted inSci/Tech

Global study is the first to map ocean areas that, if strongly protected, would help solve climate, food and biodiversity crises

From climate change and carbon emissions to biodiversity and global hunger, humanity faces so many challenges that tackling them quickly is a daunting task. One solution that potentially addresses multiple issues could provide the impetus society needs to make significant progress. An international team of 26 authors, including six at UC Santa Barbara, has just […]

Posted inCalifornia

New model reveals how two radically different communities coexist beneath the canopies of California’s iconic kelp forests

Santa Barbara, CA, February 22, 2021 – Walk along the beach after a winter storm and you’ll see a shore littered with wracks of giant kelp, some 30 to 40 feet long — evidence of the storm’s impact on coastal kelp forests. Less apparent to the casual beachgoer is what happens to the submarine forests […]