Climate awards seed NRS innovations

view of shoreline with a band reddish-brown waters adjacent to the rocky shoreline
The band of reddish-brown waters next to the shore indicates an algal bloom at the NRS’s Bodega Marine Reserve. A project funded by the NRS climate awards will help identify conditions that are likely to trigger algal blooms and other risks to public safety. Image: John Largier

In 2023, the NRS received $1 million from the state of California to fund innovations supporting the state’s ambitious climate goals. The two-year grants seed climate-focused entrepreneurship that will have a swift and measurable impact on climate resilience.

The five projects funded by the climate awards take a wide range of approaches to combat climate crisis impacts. These range from applying artificial intelligence to track biodiversity, to supporting undergraduates from diverse backgrounds to explore the field sciences, to enlisting data and technology to protect coastal communities from drought, wildfire, and other effects of a warming planet. Every project utilizes existing NRS datasets or is being tested and deployed on NRS reserves.

“The state of the environment affects every one of us, whether through heat waves, the risk of wildfire, or the well-being of our neighborhoods,” says Steve Monfort, executive director of the UC Natural Reserve System. “As California’s premier outdoor laboratory, the NRS is proud to catalyze solutions that keep California healthy in the face of the climate crisis.”

Stories in this series will be posted as they become available.

Projects

Climate awards seed NRS innovations 1

¿field curious? smashes barriers to outdoor science

UC Merced’s ¿field curious? program lowers barriers keeping underrepresented students from trying their hand at field research with gear, information, and weekend trips to NRS reserves.


Using tech to break bottlenecks in wildlife monitoring

Using tech to break bottlenecks in wildlife monitoring

An automated system for identifying species in the field and recording that information in a data repository should dramatically increase our capacity to monitor small animal biodiversity.


coastal network

Mining coastal network data to benefit communities

UC researchers are applying environmental data from NRS reserves to forecast climate change impacts such as flooding in coastal communities.


Climate awards seed NRS innovations 2

A toolkit to assess ecosystem resilience to wildfire

Using drone images taken at reserves, scientists are developing an online tool that can identify factors such as slope aspect and vegetation type to analyze a landscape’s wildfire risk.

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