On foggy days, coastal strawberry plants use water more efficiently

Assistant Professor of Geography & Environment Sara Baguskas publishes new paper

A foggy day can dampen spirits — and according to new research by Assistant Professor of Geography & Environment Sara Baguskas, plants experience its effects, too. Her recently published paper in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology shows that on foggy days, coastal strawberry crops use water more efficiently compared to on clear-sky days during the summertime. The likely reason has to do with light: When sunlight is filtered through fog, it becomes more diffuse and gets distributed more evenly throughout entire plants, letting the plants use light more efficiently. This mechanism is explored in an upcoming paper in the same journal in collaboration with Professor of Geography and Environment Andrew Oliphant. The results could inform the way farmers schedule irrigation, helping them better manage increasingly tight water resources.

Baguskas will continue exploring the relationship between coastal fog and ecosystem function at SFSU. For example, she is interested in examining how fog affects the wine industry, as well as the influence of fog events on urban plants and climate. Studying fog requires interdisciplinary research, and Sara is interested in collaborating with faculty in the College of Science and Engineering and beyond – for contact information, see her website.