UC MEXUS Workshop Fosters Collaboration Beyond Borders


Scientists and graduate students from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border recently gathered for a two-day, cross-disciplinary weather conference hosted by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

The UC MEXUS workshop, held April 21-22, was a collaborative effort among researchers at Scripps Oceanography and colleagues from Arizona and Mexico to implement new combined GPS and meteorological infrastructure to monitor and forecast North American Monsoon rainfall and flash flooding in the trans-border region.

In addition to Scripps, participating organizations included Universidad Nacional Autonom de Mexico (UNAM), Universidad de Sonora, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE), University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of Washington, UNAVCO, the University Consortium for Atmospheric Research COSMIC Program Office, and the National Weather Service’s office in San Diego.

Scripps researchers Jennifer Haase and Yehuda Bock co-organized the event with UNAM researcher David Adams.

“We held this workshop to identify areas of mutual interest in scientific collaboration,” said Haase, associate researcher at the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps, “in particular addressing how next generation high resolution cloud resolving weather predication models are necessary to make reasonable forecasts of the long term regional monsoon rainfall that causes flash flooding in the Southern California and Arizona area; the large-scale regional modeling is insufficient.”

Additionally, Scripps graduate student Lauren Linsmayer and Scripps oceanographer Gino Passalacqua organized a public forum through the Interdisciplinary Forum for Environmental Research (IFER)—a student-led organization that develops interdisciplinary collaboration and communication across campus.  IFER is a collaboration among the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps, the UC San Diego Center for the Humanities Critical Ecologies Group, and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF).

Notably, several UC San Diego graduate students participated in the IFER and UC MEXUS co-hosted event with presentations highlighting the vast dimensions of human interaction with weather, from weather control/manipulation, to weather effects on human mood and behavior, to influences of weather on the labor market. Other speakers focused on topics of societal concern, including managing San Diego storm water and flooding, San Diego city fire hazards, and weather predictions.

“The event accomplished bringing together a diverse array of speakers from different academic disciplines and city officials to have a discourse about human interactions with weather,” said Linsmayer, a fourth-year PhD candidate at Scripps studying coral physiology. “IFER was very grateful to be to be involved in co-organizing this event.”

Speakers and presentations at the IFER-UC MEXUS panel included:

  • Christopher Castro, University of Arizona Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, professor: "Convective organization and modeling for the North American monsoon"
  • Nick Obradovich, UC San Diego Department of Political Science, PhD candidate: "Climate change may impact human mood"
  • Jeff Shrader, UC San Diego Economics, PhD candidate: "The effect of El Niño-Southern Oscillation on labor markets"
  • Peter Braden, UC San Diego History, PhD candidate: "Summoning the Wind, Calling the Rain: Weather Control During China's Great Leap Forward, 1956-1962"
  • Roger Wammack, Transportation & Storm Water Department, City of San Diego: “The use of weather forecasts to organize storm patrol and plan responses”
  • Colin Stowell, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, assistant fire chief/emergency operations: “Panel discussion; How San Diego's Fire-Rescue Department uses weather in their planning efforts”

IFER recently received “Understanding and Protecting the Planet” funds from UC San Diego. This seed money will support IFER’s continued efforts to bridge disciplinary gaps across the UC campuses and to continue an academic knowledge exchange with COLEF.

Haase noted that the UC NEXUS and IFER events were extremely effective in fostering group discussions about potential funding mechanisms for complementary science proposals to fund this new instrumentation work—both north and south of the border.

Funding for this workshop was provided by the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS), an academic research institute dedicated to improving binational scholarly understanding and providing positive contributions to society in both Mexico and the United States.

– Brittany Hook



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