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Features Archive


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29-Jun-2015
Magnetic attraction
Researchers studying a broad spectrum of science, including biofuel production processes, climate effects on carbon cycling in the soil and carbon transformations in the atmosphere will soon have access to EMSL's new 21 Tesla Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer. Scientists are eager to start getting molecular-level information for their research, and six inaugural studies were selected to use the new instrument through a Special Science Call.

Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

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.

Contact: Morgan McCorkle
mccorkleml@ornl.gov
865-574-7308
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

27-May-2015
Berkeley Lab scientist invents new technique to understand cloud behavior
With two off-the-shelf digital cameras situated about 1 kilometer apart facing Miami's Biscayne Bay, Berkeley Lab scientists David Romps and Rusen Oktem are collecting three-dimensional data on cloud behavior that have never been possible to collect before.

Contact: Julie Chao
JHChao@lbl.gov
510-486-6491
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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.

Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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.

Contact: Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov
DOE/US Department of Energy

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.

Contact: Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov
DOE/US Department of Energy

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.

Contact: Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov
DOE/US Department of Energy

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.

Contact: Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov
DOE/US Department of Energy

30-Apr-2015
Microbe produces ethanol from switchgrass without pretreatment
Scientists engineered a strain of a consolidated bioprocessing bacterium that efficiently breaks down biomass to produce ethanol without pretreatment.

Contact: Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov
DOE/US Department of Energy

30-Apr-2015
Microbes disprove long-held assumption that all organisms share a common vocabulary
Some wild microorganisms reinterpret the instructions coded into their DNA. Short DNA segments that signal other organisms to stop are instead read as instructions to keep building.

Contact: Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov
DOE/US Department of Energy

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.

Contact: Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov
DOE/US Department of Energy

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.

Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

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.

Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

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.

Contact: Justin Eure
jeure@bnl.gov
631-344-2347
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

1-Apr-2015
Major new research project to study how tropical forests worldwide respond to climate change
Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments-Tropics will couple field research with the development of a new ecosystem model that represents how tropical forests interact with Earth's climate in much greater ecological detail than ever before.

Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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.

Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

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.

Contact: Andrew Gordon
agordon@slac.stanford.edu
650-926-2282
DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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.

Contact: Katie Bethea
betheakl@ornl.gov
865-576-8039
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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.

Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

10-Oct-2014
Researchers look inside to reveal workings of a powerful biochemical switch
Using X-rays and neutron beams, a team of researchers have revealed the inner workings of a master switch that regulates basic cellular functions, but that also, when mutated, contributes to cancer, cardiovascular disease and other deadly disorders.

Contact: Katie Bethea
betheakl@ornl.gov
865-576-8039
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

15-Sep-2014
Carbon sequestration research continues at Sandia Labs under Energy Department funds
Sandia researchers are sharing a four-year, $12 million Department of Energy research contract on the long-term geologic sequestration of carbon. The contract from the department's Office of Science funds research by the Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security.

Contact: Sue Holmes
sholmes@sandia.gov
505-844-6362
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

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.

Contact: Dawn Levy
levyd@ornl.gov
865-576-6448
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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.

Contact: Tom Rickey
tom.rickey@pnnl.gov
509-375-3732
DOE/Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

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.

Contact: Dawn Levy
levyd@ornl.gov
865-576-6448
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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.

Contact: Linda Vu
lvu@lbl.gov
510-495-2402
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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