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San Diego Climate Scientists Strive To Better Impact Public Policy

Photo caption: This undated file photo released by the California Department of Water Resour...

Photo by California Department of Water Resources

This undated file photo released by the California Department of Water Resources shows water making its way south through the Central Valley by way of the California Aqueduct.

San Diego Climate Scientists Strive To Better Impact Public Policy


Marty Ralph, director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes

Jennifer Burney, assistant professor, UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy


Researchers are expanding their understanding of the natural world all the time. But do those breakthroughs filter down to the policies that dictate how we handle our natural resources?

UC San Diego is hosting a panel Thursday to help make those connections stronger. It's called "Water in the West" and will feature climate scientists and a County Water Authority executive to discuss the source of the state's water supply and how best to regulate its use.

"Often technical scope and the management structure for how decisions get made stymies the implementation of any policy that deals with the physical world," said Jennifer Burney, an assistant professor at UCSD's School of Global Policy and Strategy. "Maybe we learn something about how the world works, but then to get that rolled into the rule-making process is very complicated. That’s often the sticking point."

Burney is also the faculty director of the school's Science Policy Fellows program, which pairs science graduate students with policy professors to learn about the impact of their research. One biochemistry student was interested in how his work could better inform San Diego's cloud seeding policy, for example, which uses an aerosol spray to try and induce more rainfall. During his fellowship, the student studied who has legal right to the rain before it falls from clouds and how it impacts California's water supply.

Marty Ralph, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, will moderate the panel. He and Burney joins KPBS Midday Edition to share their research and how it could help better manage the state's reservoir system.


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