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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 […]

Posted inCalifornia

Archaeologist argues the Chumash Indians were using highly worked shell beads as currency 2,000 years ago

Santa Barbara, CA, January 28, 2021 – As one of the most experienced archaeologists studying California’s Native Americans, Lynn Gamble(link is external) knew the Chumash Indians had been using shell beads as money for at least 800 years.  But an exhaustive review(link is external) of some of the shell bead record led the UC Santa Barbara professor emerita of […]

Posted inSci/Tech

Researchers model the regional impacts of specific anthropogenic activities and their influence on extreme fire weather risk

January 14, 2021 – When the Thomas Fire raged through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in December 2017, Danielle Touma, at the time an earth science researcher at Stanford, was stunned by its severity. Burning for more than a month and scorching 440 square miles, the fire was then considered the worst in California’s history. Six […]

Posted inSci/Tech

A Well-Rooted Study

Santa Barbara, CA, December 16, 2020 – Spend time in any of the world’s great forests and you’ll start seeing the trees as immense pillars holding the heavens aloft while firmly anchored in the earth. It’s as much fact as sentiment. Trees really do link the ground to the sky by exchanging energy and matter […]

Posted inSci/Tech

Epidemics and pandemics are not equal-opportunity killers

Santa Barbara, CA,  December 10, 2020 – Epidemics and pandemics are not equal-opportunity killers. Seen through the archaeological record, incomplete as it may be, these waves of death victimized the marginalized and most vulnerable populations wherever they struck. In the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be no different, striking Indigenous, Black and Latinx communities […]

Posted inEnviro

Symbiotic relationship between California oaks and mutualist fungi appears to provide a buffer for climate change

December 10, 2020 – “Happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” So goes the first line of Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.” Little did the Russian novelist know his famous opening line would one day be used to describe microbial communities, their health and their relationships to their hosts. […]