Climate Change and Sustainability


SJSU researchers are international leaders in conducting field studies and high-powered super-computer modeling of fire-atmospheric interactions. We focus on understanding the behavior of wildland fires. We operate a suite of mobile assets including a Doppler lidar and the only Doppler radar in the western U.S. and various other equipment including an airborne wildfire imaging system. The Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center (WIRC) is sponsored by NSF as the nation’s only Industry-University Cooperative Research Center dedicated to fire. WIRC also operates a HPC cluster for operational wildfire predictions and forecasts. SJSU researchers also analyze data and simulate fire activity to improve forecasting air quality, fire progress, and smoke spread. 

Ocean Acidification & Hypoxia

SJSU researchers study the effects of climate change on commercially important fishery species. At the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Aquaculture Facility, researchers simulate future changes in ocean chemistry to examine the impacts of ocean acidification and hypoxia on multiple life stages of fish. SJSU researchers test how these environmental stressors affect fertilization success, embryo development, larval performance, olfactory capabilities, brain function, metabolic physiology, and swimming capabilities of rockfish, flatfish, and many other species. In addition, SJSU researchers are working to develop sustainable aquaculture solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change on this rapidly growing industry. By creating land-based integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems for the co-culture of seaweeds and shellfish, the researchers can boost the growth of abalone, buffer seawater to limit the effects of ocean acidification, and provide additional aquaculture products to expand farmer portfolios.

Species Migration and Habitat

SJSU researchers employ biologging devices to locate and track the behavior of sea birds. For example, the albatross has been tracked on foraging trips to explore bird-fishery interactions and their proximity to shipping lanes. We also combine tools in biomechanics, animal behavior and stable isotope ecology to understand how environmental changes influence the relationship between diet and morphology of a model invertebrate, the mantis shrimp. On land, SJSU researchers are examining fecal DNA from the American pika to study natural selection along environmental gradients in wildlife refuges of the western states.

Renewable and Green Energy

SJSU researchers are working to incorporate renewable energy sources (wind farms, solar farms, biomass co-fire, rooftop solar), with carbon capture and storage by seawater - mafic rock mixture (sequestration). The researchers explore both a benchtop model and a scaled-up system. They quantify the solubility of carbon dioxide in seawater as a function of pressure and temperature and look into different mafic rock formations to find the best one for carbon capture. Additionally, SJSU researchers are synthesizing enzyme-inspired polymers for catalyzing the conversion of greenhouse gasses into useful fuels under eco-friendly conditions. In addition, we are engineering bacteria to recover rare Earth metals from discarded electronics and landfills. Bacteria are also being investigated as a source of the biodegradable plastic, poly-hydroxybutyrate.

Batteries and Sustainability

Our investigators develop new materials to create safer and longer-lasting batteries. These include batteries using solid-state electrolytes and highly concentrated aqueous electrolytes.