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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Master of Advanced Studies program in Climate Science and Policy responds to an international need for people working in topics affected by the world's changing oceans and climate to combine the scientific knowledge of the Earth's climate system with an understanding of the political, legal, and economic challenges associated with applying scientific knowledge in particular governmental and social contexts. The program's interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to prepare practitioners to make wise and realistic decisions about the management of climate impacts and their associated risks. Crossing a variety of fields in climate sciences, policy and communication, the program invites students with professional backgrounds in the private and public sectors as well as non-government organizations (NGOs).

Climate Science and Policy

There are 81 publications in this collection, published between 2016 and 2023.
Capstone Papers (81)

Heat Resilience Planning in San Diego: Local Plans, Barriers, and Tools to Facilitate Strategy Implementation

Heat resilience strategies are necessary to protect against adverse heat impacts in urban environments as extreme heat continues to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change. Urban planners play a key role in designing and implementing these strategies, and collaboration across agencies and jurisdictions is crucial to building more effective heat governance. The City of San Diego’s Climate Resilient San Diego plan includes heat resilience strategies that the City plans to implement in the next five years, which include expanding access to Cool Zones, increasing the urban tree canopy, creating an urban greening program, and implementing cool pavement, cool roofs, and green roofs.

The purpose of this project was first to understand San Diego heat resilience plans and policies, which was accomplished by a review of applicable California State policy and relevant San Diego plans. The next aim was to identify barriers that City of San Diego urban planners face in implementing heat resilience strategies and understand what strategies they believe should be prioritized and what tools may be useful to facilitate action. This was accomplished by conducting a survey of the City of San Diego Planning department. Lastly, these survey responses were used to develop a tool that will help the City meet stated goals in the Climate Resilient San Diego plan and make it easier to implement heat resilience strategies to achieve the most effective outcomes. The tool format is interactive ArcGIS maps and a StoryMap created for the City to use and integrate throughout relevant plans. The results of these maps identify recommended priority zip codes for City planners to consider implementing community outreach and heat resilience strategies based on heat susceptibility and different variables correlating with their heat resilience strategies. Recommendations were made based on survey results, map findings, and heat resilience planning best practices explored through applicable research.

The Promise of Power & Resilience: Mapping Optimal Locations for Microgrids Across a Range of Grid Modernization Goals in California

The State of California is working to bolster local electricity resilience by accelerating the adoption of microgrids, notably through its Microgrid Incentive Program (MIP). This Program allocates the State’s three largest electric utilities $200 million to build community microgrids that support disadvantaged communities, specifically in fire and outage prone areas of their service territories.

This work presents a new tool built to analyze microgrid suitability in the service territories of these utilities. It then applies this tool in a study that locates areas potentially eligible for California’s new MIP and maps optimal sites for microgrids under MIP objectives as well as a range of other grid modernization goals. It identifies and ranks where microgrids could be most beneficial by seeding an ArcGIS suitability model with criteria chosen by the utilities and informed by the California Public Utilities Commission, California’s Office of Planning and Research, and MIP workshop participants. These criteria reflect utility efforts to bolster resilience for key populations in areas vulnerable to disruption and include Tier 2 and 3 High Fire Threat Districts, locations of previous Public Safety Power Shutoffs, circuits with historically low levels of reliability, and disadvantaged / vulnerable populations. Other criteria speak to additional benefits that microgrids can provide, such as reducing pollution, arbitraging locational marginal electricity prices, and integrating renewable energy.

Results indicate that 70% of incorporated and census designated places within the three utilities’ service territories likely have at least one location that’s eligible for MIP funds. Historically marginalized communities are the most likely to lack the capital, technical/regulatory expertise, and institutional support required to pursue this funding. As such, this result indicates that capacity building in these communities to develop the skills and resources necessary to undertake adaptation projects may be necessary to reach the Program’s equity goals.

Modeling suitability under different secondary goals, in which various aims beyond resilience are weighted and scored, changes the distribution of the most suitable locations—with the percentage of individual places featuring high suitability scores ranging from 6% to 26% for different portfolios of benefits. In some areas, three goals are often aligned (those of lowering pollution, improving equity, and achieving incremental decarbonization). This suggests that realizing multiple microgrid co-benefits is feasible, but that doing so marks a distinctly different approach from the current focus on wildfire resilience. Ultimately, policy choices that prioritize different sets of microgrid goals in different locations—depending on the unique burdens and threats facing local communities—and shift power from utilities to communities may offer the most viable path forward to realizing potential co-benefits.

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