Research Highlights

ORNL researchers improve soil carbon cycling models

A more robust model of the soil carbon cycle developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) improves understanding of carbon residence time in soils and enables scientists to make more accurate climate predictions.

The model does a better job than previous models of...

Tool investigates population, climate impacts on global water resources

A method combining geographic information systems data with climate models and statistical analysis is provid­ing insight into the relative impact of population growth and climate on global freshwater supplies.

“Our tool provides a simple method to integrate disparate...

FACE dig uncovers increased soil carbon storage under elevated carbon dioxide

Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations can increase carbon storage in the soil, according to results from a 12-year DOE-sponsored carbon dioxide–enrichment experiment led by the Environmental Science Division. The increased stor­age of carbon in soil could help to slow down rising atmo...

ORNL scientists solve mercury mystery

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientist Liyuan Liang, left, and a team of researchers have identified two genes required for bacteria to transform inorganic mercury in the environment into methylmercury, an organic and far more toxic form. Pictured with Liang is ORNL...

Biogeochemical Transformations at Critical Interfaces

Overview

Anthropogenic releases and changing environmental conditions profoundly affect the biogeochemical cycling of trace metals such as mercury (Hg). Mercury can be methylated to form methylmercury, a neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in the food web, endangering humans and other biota...

Exploring potential future climate effects on permafrost using hydrothermal modeling of arctic soils

Effect of Soil property uncertainties on permafrost thaw projections: A calibration-constrained analysis

The effects of soil property uncertainties on permafrost thaw projections are studied using computation modeling.  Projected permafrost characteristics such as active layer...

Reviews and Syntheses: Four Decades of Modeling Methane Cycling in Terrestrial Ecosystems

Numerical models have been developed to quantify the magnitude, investigate the spatial and temporal variations, and understand the underlying mechanisms and environmental controls of CH4 fluxes within terrestrial ecosystems. These CH4 models are also used for integrating multi-scale...

Root traits explain observed tundra vegetation nitrogen uptake patterns: Implications for trait-based land models

Root traits and nutrient competition approach explain NGEE-Arctic observations

Arctic warming will release substantial amounts of soil nitrogen that could potentially fertilize plant productivity. However, under the stress of microbial immobilization demand, the amount of nitrogen...

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...

Reconciling food security and bioenergy: priorities for action

The top downloaded article in 2016 in the journal Global Change Biology Bioenergy was co-authored by Environmental Science Division members Keith Kline and Virginia Dale.  The article titled “Reconciling food security and bioenergy: priorities for action” shows how biofuels...

FRED database gathers root traits to advance understanding of belowground plant ecology

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists have released a new global, centralized database of plant root traits, or identifying characteristics, that can advance our understanding of how the hidden structure of plants belowground may interact with and relate to life aboveground...

Simulating Extreme Storms over the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin

A numerical weather forecasting model (WRF) was used to simulate 120 storms over the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) river basin to explore the effect of climate change on probable maximum precipitation (PMP).  

PMP is defined as the largest rainfall depth that could physically...

Defrosting the World's Freezer: Thawing Permafrost

To enhance Earth system models, researchers are examining how and why permafrost thaws and melts.

Snowy peaks rise up in one direction; boggy tundra spreads across the other. Fuzzy heads of long-stemmed plants sway in the wind, interspersed with bog blueberries. This is Alaska's Eight...

UT-ORNL to Shepherd US-China Transdisciplinary Environmental Research Network

A new grant sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) will support an environmental research network designed to identify transdisciplinary research opportunities and collaborations for scientists in the United States and China working to achieve sustainable use of...

ORNL researchers study Southeast US wood pellet industry

With a growing volume of wood pellets being produced and shipped from the Southeast United States to Europe as a renewable energy source, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers recently took a look at the state of the industry and examined data on environmental impacts.

...

Vcmax Simulation and the Impact on Global Patterns

A major source of uncertainty in global gross primary production (GPP), and associated carbon cycle dynamics, is the calculation of maximum photosynthetic carboxylation rate (Vcmax) which is one of two plant traits that closely determines photosnthetic...

The ORNL DAAC project is embarking on two new advances partnering with NASA

ACT America addresses three primary sources of uncertainty in the ability to infer carbon dioxide and methane sources and sinks - transport error, prior flux uncertainty and limited data density (hi-res image)

NASA has planned an airborne campaign called the...

Terrestrial Model Data Management

ORNL Environmental Sciences Division (ESD) researchers have been leading the data management component for the Multi-Scale Synthesis and Terrestrial Model Intercomparison Project (MsTMIP) project since 2010.  This team made contributions by working with the project team to provide a...

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...

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...

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