• Mika Tosca

    Mika Tosca

    11:30 am-12:30 pm
    October 4, 2021

    Making sense of all these data: How collaborations between
    artists, designers, and climate scientists can improve the communication and production of scientific knowledge

    In recent decades, despite glaring and increasing evidence of climate change, much of this knowledge remains abstruse, cumbersomely documented, and opaquely presented, making engagement with it by “nonscientists” difficult. There exists, therefore, an exciting and necessary opportunity for scientists to collaborate with artists. We learn that the scientific method begins with a hypothesis, progresses through research and analysis, and concludes with a result. The design process, in contrast, begins with human engagement and inquiry, progresses through ideation and prototyping, and concludes with a refined artifact; similar processes with one glaring difference.

    Perhaps the revolution we need to address climate change begins by making the human engagement of artmaking an integral part of the scientific method. There exists real potential for art and design to dramatically improve the way climate research is conducted and communicated. Here, I discuss how collaborations between designers and scientists improved a data delivery interface and the knowledge that scientists could produce while using it. Echoing the sentiments of the late mother of Afrofuturism, Octavia Butler, we can only have the future we need if we imagine it first, and who better to help us imagine our future than artists and designers.

  • Imma Oliveras

    Imma Oliveras

    11:30 am-12:30 pm
    October 11, 2021

    Ecological mechanisms of tropical vegetation transitions for co-existing with abiotic stressors and disturbances

    Tropical vegetation transitions are complex systems as many biotic and abiotic drivers operate within a small spatial scale, and mark the ecotone between two contrasting ecosystems. They can be stable at relatively short periods of times, but changes in the biotic/abiotic conditions driven by anthropogenic change can cause disequilibrium, with the potential of one ecosystem expanding over the other.

    In this talk I will talk about the two most widespread vegetation transitions in the tropics: tropical mountain treelines, and tropical forest- savannas. In each system, I will explain the main changing drivers operating at the transition and the ecological mechanisms of vegetation to cope with the drivers, in an attempt to elucidate their future trajectories with environmental change.

    Dr. Oliveras is an ecosystem ecologist, a Deputy Ecosystems Research Program Leader at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, and a Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, State University of Mato Grosso (UNEMAT), Brazil.  Dr. Oliveras explores the vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems to global change. She is interested in how changes in the abiotic conditions – and particularly extreme drought events and modified fire regimes – affect plant form and function, and how this aggregates to diversity and ecosystem functioning. She is particularly passionate about mountainous and tropical environments.

  • Kevin Anchukaitis

    Kevin Anchukaitis

    11:30 am-12:30 pm
    October 18, 2021

    Paleoclimate reconstructions of western North American snow droughts during the last millennium

    Mountain snowpacks provide essential water supply for human populations and ecosystems in the western United States. Warmer temperatures and changing precipitation patterns will continue to alter both the quantity and persistence of snow over coming decades, yet snowpack observations are limited and forecasts contain considerable uncertainty. Likewise, the utility of snowpack projections may be greatly limited by significant internal climate variability. Here we compare a new spatial reconstruction of Snow Water Equivalent for the mountains of western North America covering the period 1400 to 1980 with downscaled SWE estimates from last millennium general circulation models. Both models and data reveal the spatial fingerprint of large-scale ocean-atmosphere variability on the space-time patterns of snowpack anomalies. We characterize internal and forced variability in both models and our paleoclimate reconstruction, and use this novel 600 yr record to evaluate the extent to which simulations are able to capture temporal, spatial, and spectral properties of snowpack variability and change in western North America.

    Kevin Anchukaitis is Professor of Earth Systems Geography at the University of Arizona and a researcher at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.  He uses an array of techniques to develop and interpret evidence for past, present, and future climate dynamics across a range of temporal and spatial scales, from local to global and interannual to millennial. These include dendroclimatology, climate field reconstruction and spatiotemporal data analysis, stable isotope geochemistry, proxy system modeling, and the integration of paleoclimate data with climate model simulations.  His research program includes extensive fieldwork throughout Asia and the Americas.

  • Sparkle Malone

    Sparkle Malone

    11:30 am-12:30 pm
    October 25, 2021

    Natural Climate Solutions: Understanding the conditions that facilitate resilient ecosystems

    Although coastal wetland ecosystems are important globally for their capacity to sequester and store carbon (C), many ecosystems are at risk due to climate change and sea level rise. In one of the most dynamic coastal wetland complexes in the world, the Florida Everglades, changes in freshwater supply and accelerated rates of salt water intrusion are changing the structure and function of important ecosystems.  The Everglades Eddy Covariance Tower Network is positioned to measure the effects of disturbances and changes in hydrology. Tower locations provide an opportunity to quantify trends in productivity and develop models to estimate the source/sink potential of the Everglades landscape and how it is changing.

  • Forestry Seminar: Dan Krofcheck

    Forestry Seminar: Dan Krofcheck

    4:00 pm-5:00 pm
    October 27, 2021

    Monitoring and modeling wildfire and fuels in complex natural systems: applications for management and critical infrastructure decision making


    Abstract: Forests play a critical role in our society, through the provision of numerous services and the regulation of our climate. Forest management decisions made at local and regional scales consequently impact globally shared systems, and yet many decision making frameworks overlook or choose not to include the consideration that forests are inherently coupled complex systems. In the Southwestern US, detriment to these systems has been realized through the combination of fire exclusion, poor management, increasing human interfaces, and the changing climate. Consequently, the impact of climate change interactions with drought and fire driven landscape conversion may result in hysteretic processes, reducing the likelihood that these sensitive forests return to pre-disturbance states. This raises the stakes for ecosystem scientists and modelers, and should drive our community to think about novel and impactful ways to model these systems. However, understanding what is ‘best’ for the forest requires framing an objective function – and no single optimization target will satisfy all interested parties. Consequently, modeling efforts that seek to inform policy and management decision making should strive to incorporate and wrestle with these concepts. Here, I step through some of the modeling efforts I have been involved in that aimed to understand how best to navigate this multivariate problem, using an example from a landscape in the Sierra Nevada and the Santa Fe National Forests.

    Bio: Dr. Krofcheck is a complex systems scientist and ecophysiologist who studies systems interactions in high consequence settings. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry and environmental studies at Ohio Wesleyan University, followed by his PhD in biology at the University of New Mexico, working with Dr. Marcy Litvak. Dr. Krofcheck’s fire ecology experience began shortly thereafter, at the University of New Mexico working with Dr. Matt Hurteau. He is especially interested in how synoptic stressors can affect  landscapes in non-linear ways, affording heterogeneous responses to homogeneous drivers. These kinds of interactions are often poorly described in earth systems and landscape process models, and yet we rely on modeling to help us make decisions about how to interact with the natural world in the future. This way of thinking has gotten Dr. Krofcheck excited about coupled human-natural systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence.


    Please follow the host instructions after the talk for the Q&A. Additionally, please consider attending the graduate student discussion from 5:00-6pm by joining in on the following Zoom link: (Meeting ID: 833 9317 2036) Password: discussion


    The current seminar schedule can be viewed here:


    Please reach out to me if you have any questions.