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A window on the environment from Tahoe to the ocean

If there is a big idea in environmental science, it is interconnectedness. Air, water, land and the living things on or in them are connected in ways obvious and subtle. But actually seeing and understanding all those connections in context is very hard. That is why environmental and computer scientists at UC Davis are working together to get a "God's-eye view" of a chunk of California, from the ocean off Bodega Bay to Lake Tahoe.

The Coast to Mountain Environmental Transect, or COMET, project was recently funded with a $2.1 million, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is part of the agency's "Cyberinfrastructure for Environmental Observatories" program.

Covering coasts, forests, farmland, urban and suburban areas, COMET will represent a slice of California's environmental issues, including a forecast of how climate change will affect the state.

"How is climate change going to change precipitation patterns, summer droughts or snowfall" Will there be more wildfires, and how will that affect climate change" If we're going to understand what's happening with the environment, we need better networks of sensors," said Susan Ustin, professor and director of the Center for Spatial Technologies and Remote Sensing at UC Davis, and of the Western Regional Center of the National Institute for Global Environmental Change.

Based on existing networks funded by the National Science Foundation, COMET will integrate data from hundreds of environmental sensors and put it into a "virtual library" for geosciences, said Michael Gertz, associate professor of computer science at UC Davis and principal investigator on the project. It will include data ranging from climate to chemistry to animal counts, over distances from hundreds of miles to a few feet, spanning timescales from minutes to decades.

Gertz and co-principal Bertram Ludscher, associate professor at the Department of Computer Science and at the
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Contact: Andy Fell
ahfell@ucdavis.edu
530-752-4533
University of California - Davis
11-Dec-2006


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