Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Division (EESSD)

The Division is organized into three research activities:

Atmospheric Research
The Atmospheric System Research (ASR) is the primary U.S. research activity addressing two major areas of uncertainty in earth system models: the interdependence of clouds, atmospheric aerosols, and precipitation that in turn influences the radiation balance. ASR coordinates with the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facilty, using the continuous long-term datasets that in turn provide three-dimensional measurements of radiation, aerosols, clouds, precipitation, and thermodynamics over a range of environmental conditions at diverse geographic locations. The long-term observational data sets are supplemented with laboratory studies and shorter-duration, ground-based and airborne field campaigns to target specific atmospheric processes at various locations and under diverse atmospheric conditions. Earth System models incorporate ASR research results to both understand the processes that govern atmospheric components and to advance Earth System model capabilities with greater certainty. ASR seeks to develop integrated, scalable test-beds that incorporate process-level understanding of the life cycles of aerosols, clouds, and precipitation, that can be incorporated into dynamic models. 

Environmental System Science
The Environmental System Science supports research to provide a robust and scale-aware predictive understanding of terrestrial surface and subsurface ecosystems, including the role of hydro-biogeochemistry from the subsurface to the top of the vegetative canopy that considers effects of seasonal to interannual variability on spatial scales that span from molecular to global.   Using decadal-scale investments such as the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEEs) to study the variety of time scales and processes associated with ecological change, Terrestrial Ecosystem Science research focuses on understanding, observing, and modeling the processes controlling exchange flows between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere, and improving and validating the representation of terrestrial ecosystems in coupled Earth System models. Subsurface Biogeochemical Research supports integrated experimental and modeling research, ranging from molecular to field scales, to understand and predict the role that hydrological, biogeochemical, geomorphological, and dynamical processes play in controlling the cycling and mobility of energy-relevant materials in the subsurface and across key surface-subsurface interfaces in the environment, including environmental contamination from past nuclear weapons production.  Experimental and modeling research is supported in part by capabilities at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory.

Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
BER’s Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling programs develop and apply high fidelity models representing Earth system changes in order to improve understanding of the significant drivers, feedbacks, and uncertainties within the integrated Earth system and thereby to provide vital information needed for effective energy and connected infrastructure planning. The Earth System Modeling (ESM) Program supports the development of advanced computational, numerical, statistical, dynamical, biogeochemical and physical representations of the Earth system and its components, in order to anticipate and project important Earth system changes, dynamical thresholds and tipping points. BER supports the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) as a computationally efficient model adaptable to DOE’s emerging Leadership Computing Facility supercomputer architectures and with greater sophistication and fidelity for high resolution simulation of extreme phenomena and complex processes. The Regional and Global Climate Modeling (RGCM) Program seeks to understand the factors that determine regional variability and change, using simulations, data management architectures, and diagnostic measures.  The Climate Model Development and Validation Program develops modeling capabilities that involve high-resolution Large Eddy Simulations, next-generation terrestrial and atmospheric algorithms for global models, advanced software for Earth system models, and validation of  the simulations datasets spanning scales from process-to-global, including those generated by the ARM Research Facility and long term field experiments supported by Terrestrial Ecosystem Sciences Program. The Integrated Assessment Research Program seeks to advance scientific understanding of the complex interactions, interdependencies, and co-evolutionary pathways of human and natural systems, including interdependencies among sectors and infrastructures.

Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Facilities
Two scientific user facilities exploited by the Earth and Environmental Sciences research programs include the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL).  These provide the broad scientific community with technical capabilities, scientific expertise, and unique information to facilitate science in areas of importance to DOE.