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Climate Change Science Institute

Providing climate change knowledge, insight, and solutions for a sustainable future

Climate change is a tangible reality that affects our daily lives. The past decade was the hottest on record, and extreme events such as wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding are becoming more frequent and intense.These events and other consequences of climate change, including droughts and sea level rise, pose serious threats to communities, national security, and the economy.

The Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is addressing these challenges by translating data, knowledge, and applied understanding of climate change science into equitable and sustainable solutions for our communities, the nation, and the world. 

CCSI leverages ORNL's unique capabilities, serving as a trusted partner in collaboration with community, industry, and government stakeholders. The institute fosters innovation and interdisciplinary approaches to climate science in the following areas:

  • Earth system modeling - Uses high-performance computing to advance modeling techniques, enabling Earth system models to operate at higher resolutions. Translates new knowledge of environmental processes into the existing Energy, Exascale, Earth System Model (E3SM) for greater predictive accuracy on finer geographic scales.
  • Data integration, dissemination, and informatics - Merges data from diverse sources and distributes them through single portals to a broad range of scientists and stakeholders interested in climate change information. Creates data management tools to facilitate science.
  • Integrative ecosystem science - Captures model-inspired measurements and observations from a range of biomes and biogeochemical processes, leveraging unique ecosystem-scale climate change experiments managed by ORNL. Uses these data to inform predictive models from local to global scales.
  • Impacts, adaptation, and dynamics - Develops analysis tools and methods for assessing adaptation strategies at the intersection of climate science, energy use, and environmental justice. Provides data to stakeholders who must prepare community members and infrastructure for risks associated with climate change.
  • Pathways to net-zero carbon emissions - Uses artificial intelligence and high-performance computing to integrate data from diverse sources into regional climate models to determine decarbonization pathways and to inform mitigation strategies and technology development.


Corporate Fellow, Section Head for Earth Systems Science, Director of Climate Change Science Institute
Peter E Thornton