Steven J. Davis
University of California, Irvine  |  Dept. of Earth System Science
Satisfying global demand for energy, food, and goods without adding CO2 to the atmosphere is a central challenge of the 21st century.  My research aims to both better understand the problems and point the way to feasible solutions.
Record high CO2 emissions from boreal fires in 2021
Science | March 2, 2023

Using carbon monoxide retrievals and an atmospheric inversion model, we show that CO2 emissions from boreal wildfires in 2021 shattered records: 1.8 GtCO2. If such high levels of fire emissions become normal, stabilizing climate will be even more difficult than we expected.

Zheng et al. 2023

Selected Press: FT, CNN, WaPo, New Scientist
Pathways to net-zero emissions aviation
Nature Sustainability | January 30, 2023

We assess nine possible pathways to achieve net-zero emissions from aviation, including changes and trade-offs in demand, energy efficiency, propulsion systems, and alternative fuels for both passenger and freight transport, as well as atmospheric carbon removal to offset non-CO2 radiative forcing.

Bergero et al. 2023
Research Brief
Materials for electricity in mitigation scenarios
Joule | January 27, 2023

We estimate how many tons of steel, copper, silver, rare earth metals, and other materials will be needed to build power generation facilities across a wide range of scenarios. Although wind and solar energy require lots of such materials and current production will need to increase, availability of metals and materials will not constrain the projected expansion.

Wang et al. 2023

Selected Press: AP, MIT Tech
Economic and biophysical limits to seaweed farming for climate change mitigation
Nature Plants | December 23, 2022

Global modeling shows that potential climate benefits of farming seaweed are large but sensitive to uncertain yields and competition with phytoplankton. We also find that carbon removal by sinking seaweed is much costlier than avoiding emissions by substituting seaweed for land-based crops.

DeAngelo et al. 2022
Research Brief

Large and inequitable flood risks in Los Angeles
Nature Sustainability | October 31, 2022

Ultra-high-resolution modeling of Los Angeles flood risks reveals risks that are vastly larger than suggested by federally-defined floodplains and with both racial and socio-economic inequalities in exposure. Our approach points to opportunities for assessing and equitably reducing flood risks in densely-populated urban areas.

Sanders et al. 2022

Selected Press: NYT, LA Times
Land-use emissions embodied in trade
Science | May 6, 2022

Annually, 27% of land-use emissions are related to agricultural products consumed in a different region from where they were produced. The largest transfers are land-use change emissions from Brazil, Indonesia, and Argentina embodied in products consumed in Europe, the US, and China. Our results highlght the importance of trade in stopping deforestation and making food systems more sustainable.

Hong et al. 2022
Research Brief