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UC Cooperative Extension takes leading role in climate change research and extension

The Issue

Rising summer temperatures and extreme events – including a recent swing from a 5-year drought to one of the wettest winters on record – are indicative of a warmer, more variable climate future in California. The changing climate has already begun to stress our social, economic, and ecological systems. It is threatening crops, increasing catastrophic wildfires, harming fish and wildlife, and limiting water supplies while also increasing flood risk and ultimately impacting the health and quality of life for Californians. Public awareness of climate change impacts is growing, but there is significant uncertainty around how climate change will affect natural resources and communities. The University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) representation across the state and engagement with its diverse communities uniquely positions us to understand and communicate the consequences of climate change and identify strategies to mitigate negative outcomes for local economies, the environment, and public health.

What Has ANR Done?

Building on more than 100 years of experience in solving problems in agricultural, natural resource, and food systems, UC ANR is mobilizing to address the threat of climate change. Following a system-wide needs assessment survey in 2017, the Climate Change Program Team convened a meeting of 50 UC ANR academics and staff from across disciplinary fields, including water, nutrition, agriculture, forestry, rangelands, and fire. The two-day workshop, entitled “Integrating Climate Change in California Cooperative Extension Programs,” was supported by a grant from the Renewable Resources Extension Act with the objectives of improving climate literacy, strengthening relationships among personnel working on climate change issues, and identifying climate change extension priorities for specific programs and UC ANR as a whole. The overall goal was to begin building a community of practice around understanding climate change risks as well as mitigation and adaptation strategies and improving climate science communication with the communities we serve.

The Payoff

A new community of practice works to build climate change resilience in California

The workshop was a successful step in building a community of practice around climate change extension. Participants found the workshop to be valuable, with 75% agreeing that they have a better idea of how to integrate climate change into their programs as a result of the workshop. In addition, 97% rated presenters as knowledgeable with practical information to share and 90% rated presentations as excellent or very good. Participants at the workshop expressed strong support and enthusiasm for additional professional development opportunities, particularly related to climate science information resources, climate science communication, and climate-related disaster preparedness and response resources. These topics will be the focus of a proposed 2019 workshop.


Supporting Unit: Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM)

Central Sierra MCP, California Institute for Water Resources
Ted Grantham, tgrantham@berkeley.edu
Susie Kocher, sdkocher@ucanr.edu
Faith Kearns, Faith.Kearns@ucop.edu