27-May-2015 The 'why' of models
An international team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Macquarie University, the University of Western Sydney and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry set out to assess how two Free-Air CO2 Enrichment projects compared to eleven vegetation models that simulate various ecological processes. Instead of only benchmarking whether or not an individual model matched the experimental data, the researchers developed an 'assumption-centered' approach to evaluate why certain models performed better than others.
12-May-2015 Finding the missing particles
For the past 20 years, a large portion of the particles measured in the atmosphere were missing from models. At best, models were able to explain one-tenth of the carbon-rich secondary organic aerosols measured in the air. The problem turned out to be a series of fundamental assumptions used in the models due to a lack of experimental data. All of the assumptions were proven false by Dr. Alla Zelenyuk and her colleagues.
8-May-2015 New method relates Greenland ice sheet changes to sea-level rise
Climate models are not yet able to include full models of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and to dynamically simulate how ice sheet changes influence sea level. Early schemes failed to accurately account for mass increase due to snowfall and mass loss due to snow melt. These changes depend on ice sheet elevation and region. A new method that includes the effects of elevation and region was developed.
6-May-2015 Heat's role in the Madden-Julian Oscillation
Tropical monsoons in Indonesia and floods in the United States are both provoked by the Madden-Julian Oscillation, a process that results in pulses of clouds and precipitation moving eastward around the globe. Despite the MJO's importance, global models often struggle to simulate the oscillation accurately. Researchers showed that MJO simulations are most sensitive to the existence of lower level heating in the atmosphere.
6-May-2015 Genetics of wood formation
To begin to understand the complex genetic interactions that control a potential bioenergy crop, scientists built a robust high-throughput pipeline for studying the hierarchy of genetic regulation of wood formation using tissue-specific single cells known as protoplasts.
1-May-2015 New mathematical method enhances hydrology simulations
Just as a racecar's engine needs the right fuel to get the best performance, so climate models need finely tuned parameters to accurately simulate the impacts of different technologies and policies. Led by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a team applied sophisticated mathematical solutions to fine tune the water and energy exchange parameters, numerical stand-ins for complex processes, to better simulate water and energy fluxes.
30-Apr-2015 Model captures how nitrogen limitation affects hydrological processes
Rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide act as a fertilizer for plants, speeding their growth and altering how they use water and interact with the climate. However, an insufficient supply of nitrogen can limit the rapid growth caused by increased carbon dioxide. Researchers adapted the Community Land Model to represent how nitrogen limitation affects plant growth.
29-Apr-2015 Special science call projects announced
EMSL's Special Science Call for Proposals ran from mid-April through September and generated 23 accepted studies. The call challenged prospective users to submit high-impact research projects that took advantage of EMSL's technical resources including RadEMSL, the Quiet Wing microscopy and NanoSIMS capabilities, and HRMAC. The research associated with the call is progressing, and the projects will soon start delivering important scientific findings.
28-Apr-2015 Ground control
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. Soil is critical for food production and climate regulation. It's a complex underground ecosystem of organisms that process decaying debris to enrich the land as well as store and release carbon into the atmosphere. However, human activity and changing climate are impacting this environmental system. Scientists working at EMSL are trying to understand the complexities of soil to develop better sustainable land management to protect it.
10-Apr-2015 Bacteria tracked feeding nitrogen to nutrient-starved plants
An international team of researchers, including three from Brookhaven National Laboratory, tracked nitrogen as soil bacteria pulled it from the air and released it as plant-friendly ammonium. This eco-friendly process -- called biological nitrogen fixation -- substantially promoted growth in certain grass crops.
23-Feb-2015 Zeolites: The inside story
Zeolites have been used for decades as catalysts and in other industrial applications, but the molecular transformations occurring within the porous material is not well understood. Scientists from universities, national laboratories and industries are using EMSL's staff expertise and advanced instrumentation to gain an atomic-level understanding of these materials to improve energy production and address environmental issues.
22-Jan-2015 SLAC scientists search for new ways to deal with US uranium ore processing legacy
Researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are trying to find out why uranium persists in groundwater at former uranium ore processing sites despite remediation of contaminated surface materials two decades ago. They think buried organic material may be at fault, storing toxic uranium at levels that continue to pose risks to human health and the environment, and hope their study will pave the way for better long-term site management and protection of the public and environment.
7-Jan-2015 'Seeing' hydrogen atoms to unveil enzyme catalysis
A multi-institutional research team led by Chris Dealwis from Case Western Reserve University has used the new IMAGINE instrument at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's High Flux Isotope Reactor to map an enzyme that could play an important role in anti-cancer drug development.
30-Dec-2014 MSL's Radiochemistry Annex: It's getting hot in there
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, Washington State University and Savannah River National Laboratory are among the principal investigators seeking innovative solutions to environmental and energy production challenges in subsurface science. They are also among the scientists who submitted applications to the Special Science Call for Proposals to use EMSL's Radiochemical Annex. Learn more about three research projects using the Annex's resources.
22-Aug-2014 Catalytic gold nanoclusters promise rich chemical yields
With scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have found a catalyst containing exactly 25 gold atoms that catalyzes the conversion of various molecules, including the transformation of poisonous carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide, a reaction that may find application in devices near gas flues or wood-burning stoves.
6-May-2014 What lies beneath
The effects of biogeochemical and geochemical processes in the ground under us are on massive scales. Understanding what's going on down there and how it effects what's going on up here is an enormous undertaking. Scientists working at EMSL are getting a handle on these gigantic macroscopic processes by focusing on the microscopic scale. By creating micromodels and incorporating supercomputer simulations, researchers are connecting the molecular level with processes that affect our entire ecosystem.
11-Apr-2014 Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers contribute to prestigious climate report
Thomas Wilbanks and Benjamin Preston, both of the Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, are among the 309 coordinating lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Working Group II report. The report, which was released in Japan on March 31, found that climate change isn't just a problem for future generations, but also impacts humans in the present day.
27-Mar-2014 Human-induced climate change reduces chance of flooding in Okavango Delta
Researchers at the University of Cape Town, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the United Nations Development Programme have analyzed how human-induced climate change has affected recent flooding in an ecologically and geographically unique river basin in southern Africa -- the Okavango River. After running a number of simulations, they found that greenhouse gas emissions have substantially reduced the chance of the floods in the region.
20-Feb-2014 Brookhaven Lab's Jian Wang to help understand rainforest atmosphere dynamics
US Department of Energy researchers are joining scientific collaborators from the US, Brazil, and Germany to launch a two-year field study in the Amazon Basin. Data obtained during the Green Ocean Amazon (or GOAmazon) field campaign will enable scientists to study the intricacies of the natural state of the Amazon rainforest atmosphere and land systems and how these may be perturbed by human influences such as pollution and deforestation.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.