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Number of dead trees in Sierras now exceeds 100 million –

Dead and dying trees in Sierra forests, August 24, 2016. Photo credit: USFS.
Dead and dying trees in the Sierras, August 24, 2016. Photo credit: USFS.

California has just wrapped up its fifth year of drought, and although it is too soon to tell what the 2016-17 water year will bring, there will be no immediate relief for Sierra forests. The latest US Forest Service aerial survey (released on 18 November 2016) has identified an additional 36 million trees in the Sierras that have died since the previous survey in May 2016, bringing the total to an unprecedented 102 million.

The official USDA press release provides the basic facts, and Brad Plumer at Vox.com provides a more in-depth look at the history, background, and science behind this mass mortality event. You can also check out the regularly updated USFS California Tree Mortality site for photos, videos, and advice for California forest landowners.

Updated to add: This striking pictorial essay by the online magazine BioGraphic describes the impending mortality of California’s giant sequoias – once thought to be nearly impervious to environmental disturbances.

State of California funds Healthy Soils Initiative –

At the California Climate Hub, we were excited by the recent news that Governor Jerry Brown allocated $7.5 million in funding to the Healthy Soils Initiative. This initiative aims to build “soil organic matter that can increase carbon sequestration and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions” on California’s farms and ranches It is a collaboration between various state agencies led by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). CDFA announced the news in September 2016, and the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) analyzed the legislation in a recent blog post.

The USDA Climate Hubs aim to facilitate both climate mitigation and climate adaptation, especially where those two goals converge to provide long-term benefits for land owners. We look forward to working with CDFA and other agencies to realize the goals of the Healthy Soils Initiative. We will explore these synergies at the California Climate Hub’s upcoming workshop on Building Blocks of Climate-Smart Agriculture, tentatively scheduled for February 2017 in the Davis/Sacramento area – stay tuned!

UC Davis publishes new report on 2016 drought impacts on agriculture –

Researchers at the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis just published their third annual report on California’s ongoing drought, “Economic Analysis of the 2016 California Drought for Agriculture.” The report was authored by Josué Medellín-Azuara, Duncan MacEwan, Richard Howitt, Daniel Sumner, and Jay Lund.

The authors found that the economic impacts of the drought in 2015-16, though substantial, are less than in 2013-14 and 2014-15. They estimated the direct costs of the 2016 drought at $550 million, slightly more than 1% of California’s annual agricultural output. However, they caution that California’s water resources are still in vulnerable condition – depleted after several years of severe drought – and the possible impact of below-average precipitation in 2016-17 remains a major concern.

For the latest drought status in California, you can check the US Drought Monitor page for California, which is updated weekly. Current reservoir conditions are posted online by the California Department of Water Resources.

San Luis Reservoir, in Central California, was at 44% of capacity on May 12, 2016 (compared to a historical average of 51% for that date). Photo by Amber Kerr.

Can California lead the world in ag-tech? Josette Lewis thinks so –

“Sacramento region should lead the world in ag-tech innovation”
by Josette Lewis
JULY 21, 2016 2:00 PM

A solar-powered IRROmesh irrigation scheduling system measures and relays soil moisture data in a tomato field at Russell Ranch, near Davis, CA (June 2016). Photo by Amber Kerr.

Dr. Josette Lewis, associate director of the UC Davis World Food Center, is optimistic about California’s place in the world of ag-tech (agricultural technology). In a recent op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, Lewis outlined how stronger connections between producers, academia, and private investors can help California and the world grow more food while conserving water, energy, and the environment.

Lewis writes that “a triangle of innovation should be connecting our region to Silicon Valley and the Central Valley, further aligning California’s commitment to environmental sustainability with its success in delivering high-quality food.”

We at the California Climate Hub are looking forward to helping build these bridges. If you’re from an ag-tech startup, or if you’re a researcher or a grower with an idea for a new technology, please let us know if we can help connect you!

Save the Date: 2016 Natural Areas Conference, UC Davis, Oct. 18-21 –

The California Climate Hub is involved in planning and organizing the 2016 Natural Areas Conference, (the annual meeting of the Natural Areas Association), which will take place at the University of California, Davis on October 18-21, 2016.

This year’s theme is “Climate Change Adaptation and Natural Areas Management: Turning Words to Action.” Examples of topics covered in the concurrent sessions include: managing post-fire regeneration in conifer forests; using native seed sources to maintain genetic diversity on public lands; employing “living shoreline” techniques to cope with sea level rise; restoring the hydrology of Sierra meadows; monitoring and conserving wild pollinators; optimizing the use of remote sensing tools in restoration; and engaging stakeholders in productive conversations about climate.

Conference registration is now open (the early-bird registration deadline is September 23). Stay tuned and hope to see you in Davis in October!

California’s Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta, one of the largest estuaries on the West Coast of North America, is vulnerable to sea level rise. Photo by Amber Kerr (near Fairfield, CA, 2/2015).



Seeking UC Davis undergrad for 2016 summer internship –

We are excited to announce that the California Sub Hub is hiring a 2016 summer intern (expected work dates: July 11 – September 16; dates negotiable). The intern will work on projects such as a Forest Adaptation Workbook for California and a climate vulnerability assessment of California rangelands. The successful applicant must be a UC Davis undergraduate.

Application deadline is Friday, June 24. Please see the full announcement below. Any questions can be directed to ackerr@ucdavis.edu.

Full job announcement and information