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

Estimating the size of economic activities and rural job opportunities in a corn stover bioeconomy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) recently conducted a study to quantify the required logistical resources to support the development of a corn stover bioeconomy. Corn stover was selected as it is the most abundant biomass residue in the USA due to the massive production of corn...

Global Carbon Budget: Fossil fuel emissions and atmospheric CO2 on the rise

Global carbon emissions are on the rise again after three years of little growth. Emissions from fossil fuels are projected to rise 2% in 2017 to an all-time high driven largely by increased fossil fuel consumption in China and India according to the recently released Global Carbon...

High-resolution modeling assesses impact of cities on river ecosystems

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Aug. 23, 2017 – New mapping methods developed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory can help urban planners minimize the environmental impacts of cities’ water and energy demands on surrounding stream ecologies.

In an...