Climate Change Impacts

The Climate Change Impacts group at UC Davis examines the impact of climate change on society, including on specific sectors of the economy and on various ecosystem services. Research projects have focused on a number of topics, including investigating how climate change has impacted and will continue to impact agricultural production, and forestry and wildfire, water resources and energy demand, and quantifying the role of increasing temperature and changing patterns of precipitation. They also include examining the influence of climate change on air pollution and human health, through changes in atmospheric chemistry, transport of pollutants and biogenic emissions, as well as exploring the potential co-benefits of climate mitigation on anthropogenic emissions of pollutants. Climate change is also impacting ecosystem systems services, including natural terrestrial ecosystems and marine biology, which can have major implications for society, such as the modification of the carbon cycle. Students in the Climate Change Impacts group work to better understand the mechanisms and pathways through which climate change impacts all these complex systems as well as develop effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Select a faculty member's name below to visit their web page.

Michael Kleeman

The effect of climate change on extreme ozone and PM2.5 concentrations is a major concern for California.  Professor Kleeman's research down-scales decades of climate to examine how extreme air pollution events may change in the future.  His research couples the course-scale outputs from GCMs at 100's of km to regional models that can predict results at 4km or even 250m resolution.  This work includes development of future emissions inventories along different energy pathways to fully characterize the range of possible scenarios for future air pollution in California.

John Largier

Professor Largier's research, teaching and public service is motivated by contemporary environmental issues and centered on the role of transport in ocean, bay, nearshore and estuarine waters. His work has addressed transport of plankton, larvae, contaminants, pathogens, heat, salt, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and sediment – and he places this work in the context of issues as diverse as marine reserves, fisheries, mariculture, beach pollution, wastewater discharge, wildlife health, desalination, river plumes, coastal power plants, kelp forests, wetlands, marine mining, coastal zone management and impacts of coastal development. At UCD he heads the 16-person Coastal Oceanography Group. Dr Largier is a leader in developing the field of “environmental oceanography” through linking traditional oceanographic study to critical environmental issues.

Erwan Monier

Professor Monier's overall research objective is to support decision making, policy implementation and climate mitigation and adaptation solutions by improving the modeling of global environmental change impacts on society. His research interests focus on climate modeling and uncertainty quantification, using a hierarchy of climate models and investigating the uncertainty in global and regional projections of future climate change and climate extremes. He conducts climate impact assessments, using processed-based models, integrated assessment models and econometric impact models on a wide range of sectors of the economy and ecosystem services. Finally, his research aims at improving the modeling of the coupled human-Earth system and multi-sector dynamics, including the dynamics of the energy-water-land system and the interactions between climate change, air quality and health.

Kyaw Tha Paw U

Professor Paw U studies the physical and biometeorological processes responsible for exchanges of momentum, heat, and gases such as water vapor between the lower atmosphere and vegetated surfaces. These processes are fundamental to understanding how forests, for example, absorb pollutant gases, how agricultural crops utilize water, and how plant communities exchange carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. The plant biometeorology research encompasses experimental observation in the field, numerical modeling, and theoretical analysis of turbulent mechanisms in and above plant communities. Experiments involve using fast response instruments to measure turbulence, such as sonic anemometers and infrared gas analyzers (IRGAs). Current projects include estimating turbulent parameters and dispersion coefficients for a California regional air quality study, and determining, by eddy-covariance and mean advection methods, and the carbon exchange between the atmosphere and a 500-year old, 65 m high forest at the Wind River Canopy Crane Research facility (WRCCRF). Our research group is measuring carbon dioxide fluxes, and is in collaboration with a group measuring biogenic hydrocarbon emissions from the forest canopy. Recent data indicated this old-growth forest is surprising active and is annually sequestering approximately 2 tons of carbon per hectare, similar to younger forests. Other areas of research focus on the observation and analysis of repeatable patterns in the turbulent wind fields. These characteristic motions, or coherent structures, appear to play an important role in the overall exchange process. Numerical modeling work involves two main topics, the first being state-of-the-art Large Eddy Simulation (LES) of turbulence within and above plan canopies, using the NCAR supercomputer system. The second topic is the numerical modeling of plant canopies using higher-order closure turbulence equations linked with radiation, energy budget, and plant physiology models. This set of models has been named the "Advanced Canopy-Atmosphere Simulation Algorithm" (ACASA). It has been connected to the regional scale model MM5 and can provide a regional scale understanding of ecosystem-atmosphere interactions of radiation, the energy balance, carbon, water, other gaseous and particulate emissions, transport, and deposition. In addition, Professor Paw U has studied the thermal budget of animals and humans in response to atmospheric variables.

Paul Ullrich

Professor Ullrich's research in extreme weather focuses on understanding changes in synoptic scale weather systems in response to future climate change.  The next century will see unprecedented changes to the climate system which will have significant repercussions on global human activity and international policy. The IPCC special report on extreme weather reports with confidence that the next century will see substantial warming, with a corresponding increase in regional temperature extremes and drought conditions, increases in the frequency of heavy precipitation events in wet areas, and increases in tropical cyclone wind speeds. These trends are of a broad global nature and do not necessarily reflect the influence of the changing global climate on regional scales, which are absolutely key for planning on the local, state and federal level. For this reason, an understanding of changing regional climate and synoptic-scale weather is an unmet challenge that must be addressed in the coming decade.