Environmental Science and Policy

Wildfire Smoke Reached 99% of U.S. Lakes in 2019-2021

Where there’s smoke, there’s not necessarily fire.

Wildfire smoke, sometimes drifting from hundreds of miles away, touched nearly every lake in North America for at least one day per year from 2019 to 2021, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. 

Smoke Covered 70% of California During Biggest Wildfire Years

As much as 70% of California was covered by wildfire smoke during parts of 2020 and 2021, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. The study, published today in the journal Communications: Earth & Environment, combined lake-based sensors with satellite imagery to find that maximum smoke cover has increased by about 116,000 square miles since 2006.

Professor Reflects on Role at the Council of Economic Advisers in D.C.

After memorable encounters with the president and collaborating with some of the world’s top economic experts, Frances C. Moore, an associate professor with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP), is shedding light on the relationship between research and real-world decision-making.

Reforms Needed to Expand Prescribed Burns

Prescribed fire, which mimics natural fire regimes, can help improve forest health and reduce the likelihood of catastrophic wildfire. But this management tool is underused in the fire-prone U.S. West and Baja California, Mexico, due to several barriers. 

A paper from the University of California, Davis, pinpoints those obstacles and suggests four key strategies that policymakers and land managers can take to get more “good fire” on the ground in North America’s fire-adapted ecosystems. The paper also provides examples of how people are surmounting some of these obstacles.

Aquatic Ecologist Mary Jade Farruggia Wins Graduate Student Prize

Mary Jade Farruggia, a Ph.D. candidate with the Graduate Group in Ecology, is this year’s recipient of the Neal Van Alfen and James MacDonald Graduate Student Award for her outstanding academic performance and dedication to service and leadership.

This $7,500 award was established to honor the contributions of former dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Dean Van Alfen, and former executive associate, Dean MacDonald.

Unprecedented Levels of High-Severity Fire Burn in Sierra Nevada Forests

High-severity wildfire is increasing in Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade forests and has been burning at unprecedented rates compared to the years before Euro-American settlement, according to a study from the Safford Lab at the University of California, Davis, and its collaborators. Those rates have especially shot up over the past decade. 

To Save California’s Whales, Put Overlooked Threats Into Policy

Whales are threatened by a variety of human activities off the West Coast of the United States, including fishing, ship traffic and pollution. Overlap between these stressors can compound effects on whale populations, but are rarely addressed by current whale-protection policies in California, according to a study from the University of California, Davis.