UC Berkeley Chile Seed Funds - Funded Projects (2014-17)

Logo of Chile's CONICYT.The Center for Latin American Studies would like to congratulate the recipients of the 2014 UC Berkeley–Chile Seed Grants funded by Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT). Binational teams received grants of up to $30,000 to conduct collaborative research in both Chile and California.

Projects funded from 2013-16

Projects funded from 2014-17:

Reducing the Impact of the Next Chilean Earthquake
Richard Allen, UC Berkeley
Sergio E. Barrientos, Universidad de Chile
Article from the Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies:
"RESEARCH: A Few Seconds Warning"

Spontaneous Ignition of Forest Fires by Idealized Firebrands: An Experimental Approach for Representative Vegetation from California, USA and Valparaíso, Chile
Carlos Fernandez-Pello, UC Berkeley
Andres Fuentes, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María
Article from the Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies:
"CONICYT: Chile & California: The Impact of Wildland Fires"

Assessing the pivotal role of solar power in the future of the Chilean electricity sector
Dan Kammen, UC Berkeley
Rodrigo Escobar Moragas, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

Spatially localized structures in physics: theory and applications
Edgar Knobloch, UC Berkeley
Marcel Clerc, Universidad de Chile
Article from Physical Review Fluids:

"Slanted snaking of localized Faraday waves"

Establishing a Chile-Berkeley Exchange for the POLARBEAR Cosmology Telescope Program
Adrian T. Lee, UC Berkeley
Luis Campusano, Universidad de Chile

Seismic Performance Evaluation of Structural Walls
Jack P. Moehle, UC Berkeley
Matías Hube, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Restoration and Silviculture of Forests in the Temperate Zones of Northern California and South-Central Chile
Kevin L. O’Hara, UC Berkeley
Pablo Jorge Donoso, Universidad Austral de Chile

The Physics of Collisionless Accretion Disks
Eliot Quataert, UC Berkeley
Mario Riquelme, Universidad de Chile


PROJECT ABSTRACTS

Reducing the Impact of the Next Chilean Earthquake
Richard Allen, UC Berkeley
Sergio E. Barrientos,  Universidad de Chile

In Chile, earthquakes and associated phenomena such as tsunamis and landslides represent by far the greatest natural hazard, having caused more than 99% of deaths and 98% of economic losses due to natural causes since the early 1900s. Following recent great earthquakes, the Chilean government is modernizing its earthquake monitoring system, through the National Seismological Center at the Universidad de Chile. The new equipment will allow the development and operation of an Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system for Chile, which will be able to provide several seconds to minutes of warning to most population centers. In this proposal, the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory (BSL) and the National Seismological Center (NSC) propose to begin work toward the development and implementation of that EEW system, based on the experience at the BSL. Both the BSL and the NSC will benefit from the long-term collaboration started through this project. The NSC will receive support and expertise from the BSL towards the implementation of the system. At the same time, the data from past and future large-to-great earthquakes in Chile will allow the BSL to improve rapid estimation of earthquake parameters for large-to-great earthquakes for the operation of the EEW system in California. The lack of data from large-to-great earthquakes is currently a handicap in robustly estimating their magnitudes and predicting expected shaking, as was demonstrated by the Japanese EEW system in the Great Tohoku Earthquake in 2011.

 

Spontaneous Ignition of Forest Fires by Idealized Firebrands: An Experimental Approach for Representative Vegetation from California, USA and Valparaíso, Chile
Carlos Fernandez-Pello, UC Berkeley
Andres Fuentes, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María

Catastrophic fires at the wildland-urban interface (WUI) occur when wildland fires cannot be controlled and spread into communities. These fires occur worldwide, but recently significant damage from WUI fires has occurred in USA and Chile. Only this year (August 11) California suffered with the “Happy Camp Complex” fire, 130,139 acres were burned and had a cost of USD 82.1 million. In Valparaiso, Chile (April 12) “The Great Fire of Valparaíso” claimed the lives of 15 people, injured more than 500 people and burned over 2,470 acres in urbanized hills zones. Our common research interest is combustion, and particularly the understanding of forest fire ignition processes. Both research groups have carried out previous related work, but the problem is complex and today questions remain open. The main idea is to study the effect of idealized radiating firebrands on the spontaneous ignition of forest fires processes. A representative forest fuel layer will be heated simulating a real ignition scenario. The heating will be carried out by idealized firebrands will allow implementing pertinent diagnostics. In both research groups complementary bench scale experiments will be implemented in order to understand the ignition of typical Mediterranean vegetation present at Valparaíso and California. 

 

Assessing the pivotal role of solar power in the future of the Chilean electricity sector
Dan Kammen, UC Berkeley
Rodrigo Escobar Moragas, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

Chile is facing an energy crisis that requires breaking out of an old paradigm of over reliance in imported fossil fuels and large polluting centralized facilities. We plan to bring together premier laboratories and centers in Berkeley and Santiago to work together and tackle the challenge of creating a reliable, clean, affordable, and sustainable energy system for Chile. Collaboration will happen in two fronts simultaneously: technical and regulatory. On the technical side, the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory will partner with Pontificia Universidad Catolica’s (PUC) Department of Mechanical Engineering to create long term expansion modeling analysis for the Chilean energy system with an initial focus in distributed and centralized solar power based technologies. On the regulatory side, the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment will engage with PUC’s Department of Industrial Engineering to develop forward-looking comparative analysis of regulation and policies required for Chile to move into a new stage. Both teams will be actively interacting in an interdisciplinary project that aims to have an impact in Chile and California by showing the relevance of systemic analysis, by communicating its results to academic and non-academic audiences, and by engaging in long term collaboration to create new tools and methods that answers the critical challenges posed by global climate change. This proposal meets Chile amidst a critical review process of the regulation in the power sector, following the Energy Agenda recently proposed by the Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, with a high potential for domestic impact.

 

Spatially localized structures in physics: theory and applications
Edgar Knobloch, UC Berkeley
Marcel Clerc, Universidad de Chile

Non-equilibrium systems exhibit coexistence of different states. Their coexistence can manifest itself in the presence of fronts separating two such states or in defect-like structures in which one state is embedded within another. Their dynamical behaviors are responsible for the richness of forms, properties, and self-organization of matter on everyday scale. The figure shows different localized defects observed in optical and fluid experiments at Santiago. Understanding their properties is essential for understanding the long time behavior of continuum systems. For this reason much effort has focused on characterizing the dynamics of defects, most recently because of their potential use in all-optical storage. However, a systematic study of defect dynamics in spatiotemporally driven systems has not yet been achieved. Experimentally, such forcing can be realized with spatial light modulators or through the presence of inhomogeneities in the experimental set-up. The proposed collaboration will focus on a systematic study of the origin and properties of defects and their interactions in spatiotemporally driven systems in one and two spatial dimensions, employing theoretical approaches from both physics and mathematics, as well as experimental characterization. The predictions of the theory will be validated through extensive experiments in Santiago and numerical simulations carried out in Berkeley and Santiago. The aim of the project is to develop new and efficient techniques for controlling and handling of these intriguing objects. The proposal leverages extensive expertise in bifurcation theory and nonlinear dynamics available in Berkeley with the modeling expertise and extensive laboratory facilities available in Santiago.

 

Establishing a Chile-Berkeley Exchange for the POLARBEAR Cosmology Telescope Program
Adrian T. Lee, UC Berkeley
Luis Campusano, Universidad de Chile

The POLARBEAR cosmology project is a series of experiments designed to measure polarized fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the relic radiation from the Big Bang. The first version of the experiment, POLARBEAR-1 consists of a telescope and sensitive array receiver installed in the Atacama Desert of Chile at 5150 meter altitude. This very high-altitude site in the region of Antofagasta is one of the premier sites for CMB experiments. The science goals of the experiment are to explore how the universe began right at the moment of the Big Bang and to measure large-scale structure in the universe to give insight into the behavior of Dark Energy and the mass of the neutrino.

 

Seismic Performance Evaluation of Structural Walls
Jack P. Moehle, UC Berkeley
Matías Hube, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Structural walls are used worldwide to resist gravity and earthquake loads. It is recognized that such walls in reinforced concrete buildings can provide a high degree of seismic protection in terms of damage control and collapse prevention. Recent changes in design practices, however, both in the United States and Chile, have resulted in walls that are more slender and are subjected to larger loads than those in the past. Damages in recent earthquakes (Chile 2010 and New Zealand 2011) suggest that practical limits for structural walls have been reached and design changes will be required in both Chile and the United States. To address required revisions in building codes, separate research projects under the direction of the proposer (Moehle) and his proposed Chilean collaborator (Hube) have been under way in the United States and Chile. Limits in available funding have previously served as a disincentive to systematic collaboration between the two research teams. The proposed collaboration will enable their research teams to initiate a collaborative program with the aim of exchanging information regarding completed and ongoing research, mentoring and training of faculty and graduate students, and developing joint research proposals and publications. 

 

Restoration and Silviculture of Forests in the Temperate Zones of Northern California and South-Central Chile
Kevin L. O’Hara, UC Berkeley
Pablo Jorge Donoso, Universidad Austral de Chile

The central and northern west coast of the United States and the south-central region of Chile share very similar climatic and soil conditions. In these regions the forest ecosystems are widely known as Coastal Temperate Rainforests. In the coastal belt of northern California, coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are known worldwide for their spectacular sizes and longevity. In south-central Chile, the alerces (Fitzroya cuppressoides) are also known worldwide for being the second longest living species in the world, among other characteristics. Both Chile and California have unique forest ecosystems that include unique species such as redwood and alerces. However, there are thousands of hectares in which the development of these species is threatened either because of competition with other faster-growing species in secondary forests or competition of aggressive non-tree species in degraded lands that suffered past harvesting or fires. Many of these ecosystems are currently protected in National Parks in California and Chile, and the park management agencies of both countries have established a long-term Sister Park Partnership to advance in mutual cooperation for the conservation and restoration of these parks and their emblematic species. In this project we seek to involve researchers in forest ecology and silviculture from the University of California and the Universidad Austral de Chile to integrate the academy in long-term restoration projects as a means to develop and monitor restoration practices in these parks and therefore strengthen the institutional cooperation for the advancement of research and conservation of these rainforests in the world. 

 

The Physics of Collisionless Accretion Disks
Eliot Quataert, UC Berkeley
Mario Riquelme, Universidad de Chile

We propose a research collaboration to study the physics of matter near black holes, in particular a class of “collisionless” accretion disks. The most important application of this work is to the black hole at center of our own Milky Way. This system is the ‘Rosetta stone’ of black hole astrophysics, and has the potential to provide quantitative test of General Relativity in the coming years. The complication is that the gas being accreted is a very low density plasma, implying that Coulomb collisions between the particles are extremely rare so that standard fluid techniques used in the literature do not apply. Our work will instead center on numerical plasma simulations of the accreting plasma using the particle-in-cell technique. Our motivation is to understand the accretion process in collisionless disks, paying particular attention to the phenomena of : i) heat dissipation and heat transport, and ii) turbulence generation in disks. These processes are critical for predicting the temperature of the plasma around black holes and thus the emission produced by the accreting plasma. They will also be used to interpret observations made by the myriad of major astronomical facilities centered in Chile, in particular those by ALMA and the VLT.