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UC Natural Reserve System scientists place nature at our fingertips

When the crew of Apollo 17 snapped the famous Blue Marble photo of Earth in 1972, they gave humanity its first truly global perspective on the planet we all call home. The image helped spark recognition of Earth as having a finite and fragile environment.

Today, UC scientists continue to examine our familiar world through new lenses. Their views of Earth systems — constructed from data transmitted wirelessly across miles of land or sea — are opening our eyes to hidden levels of environmental complexity.

Many of these researchers choose to base their work within the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS). This network of 37 natural areas, which encompasses 750,000 acres across the state, offers protected lands for scientists to pursue their research.

Much of the remote sensing equipment now used to map land, track animals and detect the weather was first used and tested at reserve sites. Conditions at reserve sites — rugged terrain, thick vegetation, lack of electric power — push equipment designs to the limit.

Many reserves are blanketed with sensor networks that put nature at our fingertips. The sensors can collect a continuous stream of information ranging from snowfall levels to videos of wildlife. They allow field researchers to acquire data from their office computers instead of camping for days in remote locations.

Go to  the UC Research website for the complete story by Kathleen Wong, NRS senior public information representative.

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