Skip to Content
Global Drylands Center news

Global Drylands Center news

Global Drylands Center news

Global Drylands Center affiliate wins 2018 American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award

October 11, 2018

Esteban JobbágyEsteban Jobbágy, an Arizona State University Global Drylands Center affiliate, has been named a 2018 American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award recipient. Recipients are chosen and recognized for their achievements in space and Earth science and also their dedication to science that benefits humanity.

AGU President Eric Davidson stated in a press release that “this year’s awardees exemplify AGU’s ongoing commitment to recognizing and promoting the best scientific research, education, and communication in the Earth and space sciences.” Honorees will be recognized at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. this December.

Continue Reading

ASU's Global Drylands Center sparks collaborations between universities

June 18, 2018

Professor Enrique Vivoni
ASU Professor Enrique Vivoni

In the fall of 2017, the Global Drylands Center, a unit of Arizona State University's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, released a call for proposals aiming to foster collaboration between ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a public research university in Israel. Successful proposals were funded and are starting to gear up.

As a result of a funded proposal, Senior Sustainability Scientist Enrique Vivoni, who teaches at ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, is visiting professor Tal Svoray at Ben-Gurion University to consolidate their research agenda. Their research is aimed at understanding ecohydrological controls on vegetation distribution patterns in drylands. While visiting the university, Vivoni will deliver a seminar titled “Channel transmission losses and streamflow yield in arid piedmont slopes.” This event is open to the public.

ASU Ben Gurion University Global Drylands Seminar announcement

ASU launches the Global Drylands Center

March 29, 2018

Global DrylandsThe Global Drylands Center (GDC) celebrated its first six months with its official launch last Thursday. The amicable gathering hosted at the University Club brought together affiliates and faculty from diverse disciplines. A welcoming talk by GDC Director Dr. Osvaldo Sala highlighted early accomplishments, acknowledged the help and participation of affiliates and staff, and thanked the support of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and ASU Wrigley Institute.

Following, ASU Wrigley Institute Director Gary Dirks highlighted the intersecting grounds of GDC and the ASU charter. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Natural Sciences Dean Ferrán García-Pichel also gave some words, offering a historic perspective of the center as an interesting analogy between the importance of history for science and the inception of GDC.

Continue Reading

Second Gathering ASU-CICESE (Segundo Encuentro ASU-CICESE)

View Source | February 28, 2018

U.S. Customs Border Protection Southwest Border Arizona FenceLineArizona State University hosted a group of faculty members and researchers from the Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE) during the ‘Second Gathering ASU-CICESE’ (‘Segundo Encuentro ASU-CICESE’) in February 2018. This meeting was an opportunity to continue the interaction and ideas exchange on scientific topics of relevance to natural resources management in southwestern North America.

Participants included four faculty and one researcher from CICESE (Drs. Cuauhtémoc Turrent Thompson, Rodrigo Méndez Alonzo, Alejandro Hinojosa Corona, Steven Bullock and Alejandro Cueva), as well as 27 faculty members, researchers and graduate students from ASU. The activity consisted of scientific discussions organized in two breakout groups on topics of mutual institutional interest, presentations on cross-border scientific efforts at ASU, and discussions on alternative financing models for trans-border efforts.

The event – supported by the Global Drylands Center, School of Earth and Space Exploration, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and CICESE – demonstrates ASU’s international collaboration efforts in research, education and outreach. A press release by the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Mexico (CONACYT) highlights the importance and bi-national interest in the event.

Largest community of ecologists names ASU scientist its 2019 president

February 7, 2018

Osvaldo-Sala-Blue-ShirtThe members of the Ecological Society of America have elected Osvaldo Sala – founding director of Arizona State University's Global Drylands Center – to a three-year term on the ESA governing board. Sala will assume the role of president elect in August 2018, president in 2019 and past president in 2020.

Sala is a professor in the School of Life Sciences and the Julie A. Wrigley Chair in Life Sciences and Sustainability in the School of Sustainability. He founded the Global Drylands Center in 2017 to engage key stakeholders in dryland stewardship and develop solutions for arid ecosystems around the world. Of over 100 previous ESA presidents, Sala will be the first Hispanic person to hold the position.

Founded in 1915, the ESA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit community of more than 9,000 scientists, researchers, decision makers, policy managers and educators who are dedicated to understanding life on Earth. It is the largest community of ecologists in the world.

Forecasting dryland vulnerability for the Department of Defense

November 9, 2017

Department of Defense DesertA multi-disciplinary team from Arizona State University, U.S. Geological Survey, New Mexico State University, University of Arizona and Utah State University will carry out research to inform the management of Department of Defense drylands in the western U.S. The newly-funded proposal will investigate the interactive effects of climate change and disturbance on vegetation communities and ecosystem processes across three large deserts of the western U.S.

Researchers will assess the vulnerability of vegetation and ecosystem processes to drought and disturbance with a set of factorial field experiments aimed at isolating key drivers of change under drought conditions predicted by climate models. They will combine experimental results with existing long-term climate and vegetation data collected in actively-managed and paired-protected areas to quantitatively model and scale vegetation sensitivity to different climate drivers in relation to disturbance history. Importantly, this allows for frameworks of understanding and planning at spatiotemporal scales not possible with on-the-ground or site-specific measurements alone.

Continue Reading

Deep percolation in arid piedmont watersheds and its sensitivity to ecosystem change

October 26, 2017

DrylandsDoctor of Philosophy Defense Announcement for Adam Schreiner-McGraw

Date: November 2, 2017

Time: 3:00 PM

Location: ISTB4, Room 240

Advisor: Enrique Vivoni

Committee Members: Kelin Whipple, Osvaldo Sala, Heather Throop and Giuseppe Mascaro

Population growth within drylands is occurring faster than growth in any other ecologic zone, which puts pressure on already stressed water resources. Because the availability of surface water supplies in drylands tends to be highly variable, many of these populations rely on groundwater, and are rapidly depleting these available resources. It is therefore important to quantify how much water is recharging aquifers in order to promote sustainable use.

Continue Reading

Ecohydrological role of biological soil crusts in drylands

October 19, 2017

Biocrust ImageAn interdisciplinary team of field ecologists and ecohydrology modelers led by Kristen Whitney studied the importance of biological soil crusts to soil water balance in drylands in their new paper published in Ecohydrology.

Scientists from ASU and USGS combined long-term field experiments and simulation modeling to show that biocrusts play a very important role in water cycling in arid ecosystems. Biocrusts can cover up to 70% of the soil surface in drylands. However, their competing effects on soil hydrologic conditions are rarely accounted for in models. This very interesting work shows how biocrusts of different levels of development exert significant and strong effects on most water cycle pathways. Highly developed biocrusts act as a stronger buffer to subsoil water losses via evapotranspiration.

This work not only contributes to the understanding of the water cycle in drylands but also shows the importance of interdisciplinary research through the use of complementary tools.

Read the full article.

Water Consumption and Sustainability in Arizona: A Tale of Two Desert Cities

View Source | September 28, 2017

South Mountain PhoenixIn a very interesting and thoughtful article, ASU Professor Paul Hirt and collaborators tackle the issue of a sustainable water supply for central Arizona.

After a holistic analysis of governmental, research and historic perspectives, they conclude that the long-term solution is on the demand side of the problem. A significant reduction in per capita water consumption and total water demand is needed to put Arizona‘s urban areas on the path to sustainability. Such reductions require psychological, behavioral and cultural changes that take a long time.

Hirt explains, “The task facing Arizona over the next century is to work just as concertedly and collaboratively and successfully on managing water demand—managing ourselves—to close the water demand-supply gap steadily and intentionally in a way that averts crises, protects environmental resources and advances justice, equity and sustainability.”

Call for proposals - BGU and ASU faculty

September 12, 2017

The Global Drylands Center at ASU invites scientists at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to submit proposals for collaboration with Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

Download full request for proposal.


Arizona State University (ASU) and Ben-Gurion University (BGU) share remarkable similarities, the key of which is the physical environment in which both institutions reside. The U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) promotes scientific relations between the U.S. and Israel by supporting collaborative research projects in a wide area of basic and applied scientific fields through existing internal and NSF proposals.


The purpose of this call is to generate international research proposals in Environmental Sciences between BGU and ASU faculty. The expectation is that proposals will present new cutting edge, collaborative research to be submitted to the NSF-BSF or other external funding programs.

  • Anticipated program budget is US$80,000.
  • Up to two awards will be made under this program.
  • The budget must include a detailed justification.
  • The proposal must explicitly address how its outcomes will enhance competitiveness in eventual extramural funding.


November 15, 2017, 5 pm local time

Download full request for proposal.

ASU announces new center for global drylands stewardship

August 7, 2017

Global DrylandsThe Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences announce the launch of the Global Drylands Center at Arizona State University. Led by Julie A. Wrigley Professor Osvaldo Sala, GDC will engage key actors of dryland stewardship in developing use-inspired research, training and solutions for arid ecosystems around the world.

While working with multiple global partners – from Ben-Gurion University to the University of New South Wales and King’s College London – GDC endeavors to establish ASU as a leader in crosscutting research and education pertaining to drylands. The center will focus on a broad array of issues, including the impacts of climate and land-use change, the ecology of desertification, and the societal dimensions of productive ecosystems and healthy lives in drylands.

Continue Reading