The new center, to be housed at Scripps on the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla, Calif., will provide science-based strategies for adapting to climate change. It is being launched with a $5 million donation from longtime UC San Diego supporters Carol and Richard Hertzberg.
“We owe it to future generations to better understand the impacts of climate change, as well as to develop and implement strategies for adaptation. Indeed, we believe this new center will have a powerful impact locally, regionally, nationally, and globally,” the Hertzbergs said in a joint statement announcing their gift. In October 2014, Sunnylands hosted a three-day retreat in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to address two pressing climate-change issues: the need to devise adaptation strategies for rising sea levels and the increasing levels of ocean acidification. Attendees included Prince Albert II of Monaco; Anote Tong, president of Kiribati, a Pacific island nation threatened by rising seas; and top scholars and administrators of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
In its announcement Monday, UC San Diego said the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation will focus on research that considers how society can address consequences of climate change that are already unfolding or appear to be inevitable. These consequences range from the rise in sea levels to more extreme weather conditions that have the potential to disrupt commerce, agriculture, and the large-scale habitability of certain regions. “Scripps is a natural place for a center like this because of our long history at looking at all aspects of climate change,” said Scripps Oceanography Director Margaret Leinen, a host of the Sunnylands retreat. “We’re engaged in atmospheric research and research on land, we look at the interaction between rivers and the ocean, and we certainly study the coastal zone. So this is an opportunity to have a platform for all that research and bring it into the realm of adaptation.” Geoffrey Cowan, then-president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, lauded the formation of the new center at Scripps.
“Dr. Leinen and her colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography possess unparalleled experience and expertise to pursue solutions to the problems posed by sea level rise and other impacts of climate change,” said Cowan, who attended Monday’s announcement ceremony in La Jolla. “The Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation is a critical step forward in addressing these global challenges, especially in the Greater Pacific. We are pleased that the meetings convened with Sunnylands helped to launch and shape the work of this important new center.” The Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation will join other centers at Scripps that aid policymakers and resource managers in the arena of climate change by providing access to and interpreting data and forecast information, UC San Diego said. These include the Coastal Data Information Program, the Center for Western Water and Weather Extremes, and the California-Nevada Applications Program. As the new center evolves, it is anticipated that its staff will collaborate with these other centers on a regular basis.