EastBay Today

News
Posted January 24, 2019

Working Lands

Cal State East Bay students, faculty part of consortium study on greenhouse gases

Cattle graze on the Cal State East Bay Concord campus property.
Robert Phelps

Thanks to its involvement with a group of scientists known as the Working Lands Innovation Center, Cal State East Bay was recently awarded part of $4.7 million dedicated to accelerating the study of how greenhouse gases are stored in soil.

“We are investing the grant money in carbon sequestration activities in ‘working lands’ which means rangelands, agricultural lands [and] row crops,” Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Patty Oikawa said.

The multi-partner consortium includes scientists from UC Berkeley, UC Merced, UC Davis and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The grant was awarded by the State of California’s Strategic Growth Council’s Climate Change Research Program.

Established in 2017, the Climate Change Research Program supports research investments that support clean energy, build community resilience and create a more sustainable California.

Ken Alex, director of the governor’s Office of Planning and Research and SGC chairperson said, “The SGC research grants are designed to fill gaps in our knowledge about some of the most promising climate change solutions, and move them more quickly to fruition.”

Oikawa and her students’ research will be focused on rangeland on the Concord Campus's Galindo Creek Field Station. The area is currently being leased out to cattle farmers. An eddy covariance tower will measure the land’s uptake and release of various trace gases, which will be analyzed and studied by Oikawa and her students.

“We are all just trying to find ways to use land that we are already using for other things, in a smarter way,” she said.  “There has been a lot of research about putting compost on rangeland soils to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, which fights climate change. There has been research in this area, but we are the first to do it at the ecosystem scale. No one has ever done that before so that is the exciting piece that we are adding to the story.”