Fellow Spotlight: Kyle S. Hemes

Fellowship Type: Climate Neutrality Fellow for Research

Campus: Agriculture and Natural Resources

Degree Objective: Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Ph.D. at UC Berkeley

Project Description: Kyle is measuring the fluxes of greenhouse gases, water, and energy in the biosphere to understand how wetland restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta can sequester carbon and reverse subsidence.

What impact does your fellowship work have on your campus, your community, the state, or the world? Kyle is interested in how land use change and land use management affects climate. Environmental pressures like carbon emissions from agriculture (1/4 of the overall emissions), deforestation, land use change, and a growing populations with increasing carbon-intensive diets, we need to understand how land management and restoration can revitalize our ecosystems to make them net sinks of greenhouse gases. Many agencies in California are interested in sequestering carbon in the Delta, which could also lessen the pressure on levees and improve habitat. Additionally, ‘carbon farming’ could allow landowners and farmers on marginal lands to be compensated for carbon sequestration practices.

What is a recent success in your project? The American Carbon Registry, one of three offset project registries for California’s cap and trade program, recently published a public comment version of a GHG quantification methodology intended to promote and incentivize wetland restoration in the Delta. This methodology is largely based on the Berkeley Biometeorology Lab’s Delta research. Currently, Kyle is working to increase the size of the measurement network in the Delta, allowing for more important data on these rich peat soils. With continued development, this kind of GHG quantification methodology could pave the way for wetland restoration to count as a low-emission land use management practice in California’s cap and trade program.

Why are you interested in the Carbon Neutrality Initiative?  Kyle knows carbon neutrality is critical to revitalize our ecosystems and communities. We rely on our terrestrial ecosystems for food, fiber, energy, and freshwater. More and more, our landscapes are human-altered and managed. It is thus critical to understand how land use change and land management affects climate from a local to a global scale.

What do you hope to do in the future using the tools you developed during the fellowship?  Restoration and intelligent land management can not only slow greenhouse gas emissions, but can sequester atmospheric carbon and rebuild natural carbon sinks. Kyle hopes to continue measuring the exchange of greenhouse gases, water, and energy in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with an expanded network of towers, with the hopes of finding ways that interested landowners can most effectively sequester carbon through wetland management.


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