Mysteries from Northern California
with Inez Fung
Sat March 18 – 11am
100 Genetics and Plant Biology, UC Berkeley
“Water is everybody’s business”. Too much, too little, too early, too late can all be devastating and costly for society as well as for the biosphere. California just ended a four-year drought. How do some trees survive the drought? What are the climatic impacts of the drought?
We have been carrying out intensive high-frequency monitoring of the water cycle in a small (4000 m2) steep (35o slope) watershed dubbed “Rivendell” in the Angelo Coast Range Reserve in Northern California. The data have revealed many surprises. The water table ~20 meters below the surface rises by about 1 meter after the first storms of the season. Adjacent evergreen trees transpire in different seasons. We present a simple model of the fast processes that redistribute water in the subsurface, and hypothesize that the weathered bedrock could be a non-negligible reservoir of moisture to sustain trees through dry seasons and cool the summers.
Inez Fung has been studying climate change and the carbon cycle for the last 30 year. She is an architect of large-scale mathematical modeling approaches and numerical models to represent the geographic and temporal variations of sources and sinks of CO2, dust and other trace substances around the globe. She collaborates closely with remote sensing and field scientists to advance and challenge the models. Currently, she is on the science team of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2). She also initiated a field program to track the life cycle of water in a steep hillslope in Northern California.
Fung is the US lead of the 2014 report “Climate Change: Evidence and Causes” published jointly by the Royal Society and the National Academy of Sciences. She is a subject in a biography series for middle-school readers “Women’s Adventure in Science” launched by the National Academy of Sciences. The title of her biography is “Forecast Earth”.
This free public talk is presented as part of the monthly “Science@Cal Lecture Series”
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