Wednesday July 3, 2024


In the Santa Ana foothills high above Irvine, you’ll find some small patches of land beneath hoop houses that’ve been deliberately kept in drought for the past 17 years.

While the hills around them are verdant and covered in native shrubs, the vegetation beneath the structures looks scraggly, and invasive plants like black mustard are taking over.

Every time a major storm comes along, researchers from UC Irvine head out into the field to extend plastic sheeting over the dirt to keep water from reaching it.

The goal is to reduce rainfall by almost half, and to keep these patches of earth in drought for such a long time, we gain insight into what climate change has in store for our landscapes — especially as droughts intensify.

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