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A Cross-Campus Approach to Climate Change Research

UC San Diego organizes interdisciplinary research into official research units or centers. These groups include researchers and professors from various departments working together to understand and protect the planet as they focus on specific climate change impacts.

Research Centers

California Center for Algae Biotechnology (Cal-CAB)

The focus of Cal-CAB is the sustainable production of liquid transportation fuels from algae to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide independence from foreign oil supplies.

California Institute for Innovation and Development (CIID)

The California Institute for Innovation and Development (CIID) at the Rady School of Management supports and catalyzes the University of California’s innovation leadership and entrepreneurship initiatives. The CIID program has grown to include the StartR accelerator programs, Triton Innovation Challenge, Rady Innovation Fellows and Rady Venture Fund. These programs, combined with the many other unique learning opportunities of the Rady School, allow students to explore the many sides of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment (CAICE)

The Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment (CAICE) works to understand how aerosol particles impact the environment, air quality and climate. An interdisciplinary team of scientists supports the center’s work and includes atmospheric, physical, biochemistry, analytical and organic chemists, oceanographers and marine biologists.

Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation (CCCIA)

The Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation (CCCIA) aims to build a more resilient future through the advancement of climate science, academic-community partnerships and adaptation strategies. The center’s work includes enhancing regional climate models, advancing research on natural variability versus climate change, applying scientific methods to inform adaptation strategies and pathways, providing science advisory services to at-risk communities, etc. In addition, CCCIA helps mobilize the many interdisciplinary researchers increasingly focused on climate impacts research throughout Scripps, UC San Diego and partner institutions to help communities better prepare for these threats and adapt to build a more resilient future.

Center for Energy Research

The Center for Energy Research creates solutions to society’s growing energy supply challenges and utilization by fostering interdisciplinary research in fusion, renewables, etc.

Center for Environmental Economics

The Center for Environmental Economics promotes research in environmental economics. In addition, the center provides a community for scholars (faculty, graduate students and others in the community) interested in environmental and natural resource economics. Current programs of the center are Water Economics, Ocean Resources and the Global Commons, Methodology and Valuation, Climate Change Policy, Strategic Studies and the Management of Natural Resources, Energy and Development and the Environment.

Center for Renewable Materials

This team of biologists, chemists, structural engineers and industrial designers follow a transdisciplinary approach to building the future of sustainable materials. They believe that a convergent approach, spanning fundamental and applied research with design, will catalyze the innovation necessary to advance manufacturing into the future. They target real product applications and develop a workflow that responds to environmental needs and meets commercial requirements through direct interaction with industry.

Center for Social Innovation and Impact (CSII)

The Center for Social Innovation and Impact (CSII) extends Rady’s unique combination of rigorous business thinking and entrepreneurial spirit to address our society's significant issues and challenges.

Center for Wearable Sensors

UC San Diego is a world leader in developing ultralow-power, unobtrusive, highly adaptive wearable sensor systems that drastically reduce energy consumption while revolutionizing health, fitness and security. In addition, the center develops and improves technologies that are critical for deeply cutting energy and carbon footprints in many areas of industry and society.

Center for Western Weather and Water Extreme (CW3E)

The natural and socioeconomic systems that we depend upon are impacted by extreme weather events and their effects on water supply and flooding. The Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes works to revolutionize the physical understanding, observations, weather predictions, seasonal outlooks and climate projections of extreme events in Western North America, including atmospheric rivers, the North American summer monsoon and their impacts on floods, droughts, hydropower, ecosystems and the economy.

Food & Fuel for the 21st Century (FF21)

Food & Fuel for the 21st Century (FF21) facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration to tackle significant research objectives regarding the use of photosynthetic organisms for enhanced food production and energy independence. It supports the development of innovative, sustainable and commercially viable solutions for the renewable production of food, energy, green chemistry and bioproducts using photosynthetic organisms.

Institute for the Global Entrepreneur

The Institute for the Global Entrepreneur, run jointly by the Jacobs School of Engineering and Rady School of Management, was founded to inspire and prepare engineers to be entrepreneurial leaders. They translate technology innovations to market to fuel the economy and benefit society. The Institute for the Global Entrepreneur delivers a unique blend of education, mentorship and real-world entrepreneurial experience, merging a proven business curriculum with a technology acceleration environment that leverages UC San Diego’s research strengths to transform discoveries into market impact.

Scripps Center for Marine Archeology

The Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology (SCMA) researches the relationship between the marine environment and human societies. The center focuses on understanding the complexity of the past to put the present into context. SCMA is a joint effort between Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps) and the Department of Anthropology at UC San Diego. The center draws on expertise in various fields, including oceanography, acoustics, sedimentology, geomorphology, climate sciences, environmental sciences, anthropology and archaeology. The goal is to develop a greater understanding of maritime culture in its broadest sense.

Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation

The Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography promotes interdisciplinary research and educational approaches to maintain the integrity of ocean ecosystems and manage their use in the face of rapid and inevitable global change.

Scripps Polar Center

The Scripps Polar Center brings together scientists from the three research sections of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. They investigate everything from ocean physics to the ecology of polar organisms. They address the complex questions of today's polar regions while training a new generation of scientists capable of interdisciplinary research.

Sustainable Power and Energy Center

UC San Diego battery researchers, solar cell researchers, materials scientists and industry partners are developing higher performance and lower cost technology for energy generation, storage and conversion.

UC San Diego Natural Reserve System

Part of the University of California, the Natural Reserve System, is a network of protected natural areas throughout California. Its 36 sites encompass approximately 135,000 acres, making it the most extensive university-administered reserve system in the world.

Featured Initiatives

Air-Sea Interaction Lab

The primary area of research is air-sea interaction, including the topics of surface wave dynamics, air-sea fluxes, upper ocean turbulence, including Langmuir circulations, and the remote sensing of ocean surface phenomena using electromagnetic and acoustic techniques.


ALERTWildfire is a network of high-definition cameras in fire-prone regions, built by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Nevada-Reno and the University of Oregon. The network has become a vital firefighting tool helping first responders confirm and monitor wildfires from ignition through containment.

Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination

The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination advances understanding of the phenomenon of imagination and its practical applications. We research, enhance and enact the gift of human imagination by bringing together the inventive power of science and technology with the critical analysis of the humanities and the expressive insight of the arts. In addition, we work to develop more effective ways of using imagination to cultivate public engagement with the big questions of our time, improve education and learning and enhance the application of imagination in meeting humanity’s challenges.

Climate Action Lab

Our mission is to reduce global heating by changing human behavior. We are social scientists—economists, psychologists, urban planners, political scientists, anthropologists, etc. First, we conduct applied research to test what leads people to change their minds about the climate and what leads them to change their actions. Then, we put these insights to work in partnership with communities and policymakers.

Climate Change Epidemiology Lab

Weather extremes can have significant to extreme human health impacts. These impacts fall disproportionately on the economically disadvantaged, whether within less developed countries or the financially disadvantaged within wealthy nations. We quantify regional climate-health effects, analyze disparities and improve community resilience through applied climate, health, technology and policy research, to promote local capacity building in vulnerable regions worldwide.

Deep Decarbonization Initiative

The mission of the UC San Diego Deep Decarbonization Initiative is to help understand and guide the global economy as it moves toward net-zero carbon emissions. The aim is to understand how policymakers and investors shift from existing to new energy systems in the real world and the pace at which such transitions occur. It also explores how such shifts could be accelerated so that global carbon emissions tumble even as energy systems meet the needs of humanity.

DUNAS (Descendants United for Nature, Adaptation and Sustainability)

Under the fiscal sponsorship of the California Wildlife Foundation (CWF), the Climate Science Alliance (CSA) partners with Para la Naturaleza (PLN) and the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation (CCCIA) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. DUNAS’s work includes a community-based, climate adaptation-focused dune restoration pilot project.

Human Ecology Lab

The Human Ecology Lab brings students and researchers to explore the relationships between people and the environment through time. In particular, the lab focuses on understanding social vulnerability related to climate change.

Institute for Practical Ethics: Ethics and Social Implications of the Environment

Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and more raise many ethical, philosophical and social questions. What does justice demand in the face of climate change? What do we value in biodiversity? How can we better achieve environmental justice? New technology and knowledge allow novel possibilities for dealing with some of these problems, from geoengineering the climate to using genetic engineering in conservation. The Institute for Practical Ethics supports work tackling these problems.

The Climate, Environment and Public Health Working Group

The UC San Diego’s Institute for Public Health’s Climate, Environment and Health Working Group was formed due to the increasing understanding that climate change is a significant public health issue. The group focuses on the education and training of emerging climate and public health professionals.

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land-Use and Energy Consortium (FABLE)

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land-Use and Energy Consortium (FABLE) is a global consortium with teams of scientists in 20 countries modeling land use to 2050 in an integrated framework. Land use and land-use change account for 23% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, biodiversity loss is accelerating at alarming rates and the food system produces widespread undernutrition and obesity.

SDG Policy Initiative

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all 193 members of the United Nations in 2015, bring together academia, government, business and civil society around a shared agenda for the next decade. The SDG Policy Initiative has organized research, programs and centers of the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego to promote policies that can bring us closer to achieving the ambition of the SDGs to “leave no one behind.”


StartBlue is an accelerator from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Rady School of Management that supports the formation of advanced science and engineering startups tackling ocean-focused challenges and solutions integrated into science, industry, investment and government networks.


The WIFIRE Lab uses the power of data science and supercomputing to provide officials with real-time fire models that help strategize the best approach to containment. They deliver continuous, predictive fire models using many data types, including the point of origin, nearby topography, weather and wind conditions, vegetation available as fuel and more.