Dawn above the Desert Club, a 3.98-acre site near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs. Thanks to a generous gift from Audrey Steele Burnand, the property will become UC Irvine’s desert field research station. Photo credit: UCI.
Scientific and public discourse frames the geographically remote desert community of Borrego Springs, California and the surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park as part of the “front line” of global climate change and regional drought mitigation. Borrego Springs faces an impending water crisis, with some studies suggesting the town will run out of economically viable water within 30 years. With a year-round population of 3,500, the town’s economy and ecology are premised on access to water and the occurrence of seasonal rainfall. Agricultural activity opened the region to resort and residential development in the 1940s, and remains a major regional employer. During high precipitation years, winter wildflower blooms draw 100,000+ visitors per month, funneling vital tourist dollars into the local economy, while dry years may see a fivefold decrease in visitation. Team Water UCI is interested in exploring how to build a transdisciplinary model of the interdependent human and natural processes through which Borrego Springs’ water-based ecology is made and remade. The team will examine the scientific, cultural, political, and economic dimensions of an ecologically sensitive town in a desert region, and consider how water dependency shapes environmental subjects, both human and non-human, and the production of differently scaled and derived environmental data.
After working on research projects focused on the Anza-Borrego area, Team Water UCI produced poster presentations and held a community event. To see the posters and videos of Team Water UCI, follow the links below.
Early drought detection in Anza-Borrego desert using satellite relative humidity data
Alireza Farahmand Explains his Poster: YouTube
Teaching Sustainability: Ecologies that Matter
James Goebel Explains his Poster: YouTube
Use of Data in Anza Borrego as an example for Data Issues Public Health Officials Face
Melissa Matlock Explains her Poster: YouTube
Extremes of Borrego: Biological and Social Life in a Changing Desert Ecosystem
Modern Borrego: A Prehistory of Drought