From Nobel Prize-winning findings about the planet’s rapidly changing atmosphere to innovative technologies and solutions, the campus is ahead of the curve on the most daunting challenges of our time.
Surging king tides and fiercer storms along the West Coast are being plotted on real-time three-dimensional maps by UCI engineers for Newport Beach and Tijuana, and social ecologists are helping those communities determine how to cope with the rising waters. Biogeochemists and hydrologists are predicting wildfire seasons and weather patterns in South America and the Middle East and exploring how to tackle increasing water shortages in Australia and the American Southwest.
Others work in caves, burrow in soil, plumb ocean depths, and pore over Chinese and American soot and cement production records. Glaciologists and atmospheric chemists use space satellites, NASA flight data, boats and land sensors to unearth ice sheet movement and track methane and other emissions from the BP oil spill and the Porter Ranch gas leak. Marine biologists study tiny, heat-sensitive marine plankton that synthesize half the oxygen we breathe.
Plastic trash and sewage fumes are being converted into fuel by chemists and engineers. In a national first, fuel cells that can store the sun’s power are being deployed by UCI’s Advanced Power & Energy Program.
Centers and institutes such as Water UCI, AirUCI, UCI OCEANS and UCI-NATURE grapple with specific pieces of the climate change and sustainability puzzle. In addition to producing critically acclaimed findings, many bring together scientists, ethicists and public officials for research roundtables and conferences.
These efforts are the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg. Here’s a roll call of related UCI centers: http://sustainability.uci.edu/research/centersandinstitutes.