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Open Access Publications from the University of California

This series is home to publications and data sets from the Center for Environmental Research and Technology at the University of California, Riverside.

Societal shifts due to COVID-19 reveal large-scale complexities and feedbacks between atmospheric chemistry and climate change.


The COVID-19 global pandemic and associated government lockdowns dramatically altered human activity, providing a window into how changes in individual behavior, enacted en masse, impact atmospheric composition. The resulting reductions in anthropogenic activity represent an unprecedented event that yields a glimpse into a future where emissions to the atmosphere are reduced. Furthermore, the abrupt reduction in emissions during the lockdown periods led to clearly observable changes in atmospheric composition, which provide direct insight into feedbacks between the Earth system and human activity. While air pollutants and greenhouse gases share many common anthropogenic sources, there is a sharp difference in the response of their atmospheric concentrations to COVID-19 emissions changes, due in large part to their different lifetimes. Here, we discuss several key takeaways from modeling and observational studies. First, despite dramatic declines in mobility and associated vehicular emissions, the atmospheric growth rates of greenhouse gases were not slowed, in part due to decreased ocean uptake of CO2 and a likely increase in CH4 lifetime from reduced NO x emissions. Second, the response of O3 to decreased NO x emissions showed significant spatial and temporal variability, due to differing chemical regimes around the world. Finally, the overall response of atmospheric composition to emissions changes is heavily modulated by factors including carbon-cycle feedbacks to CH4 and CO2, background pollutant levels, the timing and location of emissions changes, and climate feedbacks on air quality, such as wildfires and the ozone climate penalty.

Cover page of Joint estimation of behind-the-meter solar generation in a community

Joint estimation of behind-the-meter solar generation in a community


Distribution grid planning, control, and optimization require accurate estimation of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation and electric load in the system. Most of the small residential solar PV systems are installed behind-the-meter making only the net load readings available to the utilities. This paper presents an unsupervised framework for joint disaggregation of the net load readings of a group of customers into the solar PV generation and electric load. Our algorithm synergistically combines a physical PV system performance model for individual solar PV generation estimation with a statistical model for joint load estimation. The electric loads for a group of customers are estimated jointly by a mixed hidden Markov model (MHMM) which enables modeling the general load consumption behavior present in all customers while acknowledging the individual differences. At the same time, the model can capture the change in load patterns over a time period by the hidden Markov states. The proposed algorithm is also capable of estimating the key technical parameters of the solar PV systems. Our proposed method is evaluated using the net load, electric load, and solar PV generation data gathered from residential customers located in Austin, Texas. Testing results show that our proposed method reduces the mean squared error of state-of-the-art net-load disaggregation algorithms by 67%.

Cover page of Information Losses in Neural Classifiers From Sampling.

Information Losses in Neural Classifiers From Sampling.


This article considers the subject of information losses arising from the finite data sets used in the training of neural classifiers. It proves a relationship between such losses as the product of the expected total variation of the estimated neural model with the information about the feature space contained in the hidden representation of that model. It then bounds this expected total variation as a function of the size of randomly sampled data sets in a fairly general setting, and without bringing in any additional dependence on model complexity. It ultimately obtains bounds on information losses that are less sensitive to input compression and in general much smaller than existing bounds. This article then uses these bounds to explain some recent experimental findings of information compression in neural networks that cannot be explained by previous work. Finally, this article shows that not only are these bounds much smaller than existing ones, but they also correspond well with experiments.

Cover page of Development of a Network of Accurate Ozone Sensing Nodes for Parallel Monitoring in a Site Relocation Study.

Development of a Network of Accurate Ozone Sensing Nodes for Parallel Monitoring in a Site Relocation Study.


Recent technological advances in both air sensing technology and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity have enabled the development and deployment of remote monitoring networks of air quality sensors. The compact size and low power requirements of both sensors and IoT data loggers allow for the development of remote sensing nodes with power and connectivity versatility. With these technological advancements, sensor networks can be developed and deployed for various ambient air monitoring applications. This paper describes the development and deployment of a monitoring network of accurate ozone (O3) sensor nodes to provide parallel monitoring in an air monitoring site relocation study. The reference O3 analyzer at the station along with a network of three O3 sensing nodes was used to evaluate the spatial and temporal variability of O3 across four Southern California communities in the San Bernardino Mountains which are currently represented by a single reference station in Crestline, CA. The motivation for developing and deploying the sensor network in the region was that the single reference station potentially needed to be relocated due to uncertainty that the lease agreement would be renewed. With the implication of siting a new reference station that is also a high O3 site, the project required the development of an accurate and precise sensing node for establishing a parallel monitoring network at potential relocation sites. The deployment methodology included a pre-deployment co-location calibration to the reference analyzer at the air monitoring station with post-deployment co-location results indicating a mean absolute error (MAE) < 2 ppb for 1-h mean O3 concentrations. Ordinary least squares regression statistics between reference and sensor nodes during post-deployment co-location testing indicate that the nodes are accurate and highly correlated to reference instrumentation with R2 values > 0.98, slope offsets < 0.02, and intercept offsets < 0.6 for hourly O3 concentrations with a mean concentration value of 39.7 ± 16.5 ppb and a maximum 1-h value of 94 ppb. Spatial variability for diurnal O3 trends was found between locations within 5 km of each other with spatial variability between sites more pronounced during nighttime hours. The parallel monitoring was successful in providing the data to develop a relocation strategy with only one relocation site providing a 95% confidence that concentrations would be higher there than at the current site.

Cover page of Frequency regulation service provision in data center with computational flexibility

Frequency regulation service provision in data center with computational flexibility


The rapid adoption of cloud storage and computing services led to unprecedented growth of data centers in the world. As bulk energy consumers, large-scale data centers in the U.S. rack up billions in electricity costs annually. Fortunately, the operational flexibility of data centers can be leveraged to provide valuable frequency regulation services in smart grids to mitigate the indeterminacy of the renewable generation resources. Specifically, this paper aims to leverage computational flexibility provided by servers, such as dynamic voltage frequency scaling and dummy loads. This paper develops a comprehensive framework for data center's frequency regulation service provision in both hour-ahead market and real-time operations. A risk constrained hour-ahead bidding strategy along with a real-time data center power consumption control algorithm are developed to minimize electricity bills and the total response time of the requests. The introduction of dummy load, realistic bi-linear server power consumption model, and probabilistic forecast of electricity and frequency regulation service prices enable the data center to accurately follow frequency regulation signals, while reducing the financial risks associated with electricity market participation. The simulation results show that the proposed frequency regulation provision framework results not only in significant cost reduction for data centers, but also limits degradation in quality of service. Meanwhile, the stability and reliability of a power grid will be improved by the frequency regulation service provision.

Cover page of Correction to: "High Hydroquinone Emissions from Burning Manzanita" (Environmental Science and Technology Letters (2018) 5:6 (309-314) DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.8b00222)

Correction to: "High Hydroquinone Emissions from Burning Manzanita" (Environmental Science and Technology Letters (2018) 5:6 (309-314) DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.8b00222)


An addition to the Acknowledgments of our paper is required. It is as follows: This research used resources of the Advanced Light Source, which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.

Cover page of Smart Building Energy Management using Nonlinear Economic Model Predictive Control

Smart Building Energy Management using Nonlinear Economic Model Predictive Control


Owing to the call for energy efficiency, the need to optimize the energy consumption of commercial buildings-- responsible for over 40% of US energy consumption--has recently gained significant attention. Moreover, the ability to participate in the retail electricity markets through proactive demand-side participation has recently led to development of economic model predictive control (EMPC) for building's Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. The objective of this paper is to develop a price-sensitive operational model for building's HVAC systems while considering inflexible loads and other distributed energy resources (DERs) such as photovoltaic (PV) generation and battery storage for the buildings. A Nonlinear Economic Model Predictive Controller (NL-EMPC) is presented to minimize the net cost of energy usage by building's HVAC system while satisfying the comfort-level of building's occupants. The efficiency of the proposed NL-EMPC controller is evaluated using several simulation case studies.