Climate and Environmental Systems

Climate and environmental scientists at ORNL conduct research, develop technology and perform analyses to understand and predict how environmental systems respond to global and regional changes – including climate change, environmental stress and energy production and use. By integrating field and laboratory methods with new theory, modeling, data systems and policy analysis, we develop solutions to complex environmental challenges.

ORNL has an increasing programmatic focus on climate change and subsurface biogeochemical research. Current priorities in the area of climate and environmental research are focused on understanding biogeochemical cycling in terrestrial ecosystems by creating new databases and models to inform climate change research; executing large-scale terrestrial ecosystem projects to improve comparisons of climate change model predictions and reduce climate prediction uncertainty; and understanding geochemical and biological controls on mercury methylation and bioaccumulation at both regional and global scales.

Research Highlights

New exascale earth modeling system for energy

A new earth modeling system will use advanced computers and have weather scale resolution to simulate aspects of Earth’s variability and anticipate decadal changes that will critically impact the United States’ energy sector.

The Energy Exascale Earth System Model, or E3SM,...

Hydropower's future is small & modular

Harnessing the power of water is a practice that has been around for thousands of years, from the ancient Greeks’ use of waterwheels to grind wheat to today’s massive hydroelectric dams that supply power to millions of customers. But given the high price tag, potential environmental...

Taking the planet’s pulse: ORNL, NASA share latest data

As temperatures change, snow melts, and days grow longer across North America, a network of sensors captures these vital data, measuring key weather metrics that inform an array of scientific endeavors from wildlife biology to crop studies to modeling future environmental change.