CCSI Mission: Advancing knowledge of the Earth system, describing the consequences of climate change, and evaluating and informing policy responses to climate change.

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Climate scientists put multiple models to the test

Researchers with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL’s) Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) are part of a multipartner team that is evaluating how the structures of terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) influence the results of model simulations. TBMs are just one component of global climate models and are also used independently to study carbon exchange between the land and atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, methane, and other carbon compounds.

Image caption: The distribution of grasslands that convert carbon dioxide into energy in two different ways is represented for the present climate (2000–2010) in this image, with C3 grasslands shown in the top panel and C4 grasslands shown in the bottom panel.  

CCSI collaborator wins Australian Climate Adaptation Champions award

Australian governments on the local to national level are preparing for increased erosion, storm damage, and sea-level rise along the country's coastlines as a changing climate poses new risks. One group committed to enabling such preparation is the Sydney Coastal Councils Group, which won Highly Commended status for its leadership in coastal management as part of a 2014 Climate Adaptation Champions awards presented by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility in Australia. Critical to this leadership was the work done by Climate Change Science Institute Deputy Director Benjamin Preston and staff research associate Meghan Maloney, whom the group commissioned to develop an evaluation tool for assessing protections to community infrastructure, health, and safety based on a risk-management framework. 

Jim Hack invited Smithsonian Grand Challenge Consortia speaker

National Center for Computational Science Director Jim Hack is among the speakers invited to the Smithsonian Institution's 2014 Grand Challenges Consortia. Similar to the 2012 conference, this year's meeting will focus on the Anthropocenene, the informal name given to the current period of geologic time in which many scientists consider humans a major driver in climatic and environmental change on Earth. Jim was the founding director of ORNL's Climate Change Science Institute and served as director from 2010 - 2013.

Four other panelists will join Jim to discuss issues related to fossil fuel use, urbanization, transportation and more. Topics will also include addressing unavoidable climate changes and developing adaptive societies and cultural institutions.

ORNL and DOE team stay ahead of the computing curve in monumental climate modeling project

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is one of eight Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories that will use high-performance computing (HPC) to develop the most sophisticated Earth system model to date for climate change research with scientific and energy applications. The national labs are collaborating with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, four academic institutions, and one private-sector company on this long-term project, known as Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy, or ACME. Many of the ORNL team members are also Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) researchers.

DOE and ORNL have been major drivers of Earth system models in recent decades, and ACME will provide scientists with Earth system models that take advantage of upcoming milestones in computing capability. As new HPC architectures support computing power at hundreds of petaflops and then exaflops (a thousand petaflops), more expansive simulations will enable finer climate predictions.

And with more computing power comes significant expectations for scientific discovery.

CCSI researchers lead global change workshop for the second consecutive year

Seven Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) scientists presented next-generation techniques for researching and analyzing the effects of global environmental change as part of the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA’s) 99th annual meeting held in August in Sacramento, California. Global environmental change is defined as the “changes in the global environment that may alter the capacity of the Earth to sustain life” by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which is a government interagency made up of hundreds of science and climate experts, including Department of Energy researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s CCSI.

Image caption: Attendees of the global change workshop led by Climate Change Science Institute researchers at the 99th Ecological Society of America annual meeting held in August in Sacramento, California.


Climate science postdoc receives Early Career Ecologist Award

Xiaofeng Xu, a postdoctoral research associate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Climate Change Science Institute, is one of two winners of the Early Career Ecologist Award from the Ecological Society of America (ESA) Asian Ecology Section. Xu’s research focuses on understanding and quantifying terrestrial ecosystem responses and feedback within the climate system for the purpose of improving computational Earth system models.

The award was established by the ESA to promote the recognition of young ecologists who make substantial contributions to Asian ecological research development.

Figure: Xiaofeng Xu

Xu’s previous research on land–atmosphere exchanges of greenhouse gases, particularly methane and nitrous oxide across North America and China, has significantly enriched the field of Asian ecology and provided fundamental information for the scientific community and decision makers. Recently his research has focused on improvement and application of the Community Land Model to understand microbial biogeochemistry and its contributions to the land–atmosphere interaction with emphasis on the microbial mechanisms in carbon and nitrogen cycling and trace gas fluxes.

Researchers present computational strategy for selecting environmental measurement sites in award-winning paper

In an award-winning paper, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Climate Change Science Institute’s (CCSI’s) Forrest Hoffman, Jitendra Kumar, and Richard Mills, along with William Hargrove of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, present a quantitative methodology that establishes an optimal sampling strategy for collecting environmental data by classifying spatial areas based on their environmental characteristics. This method provides a framework for using sparse field measurements to best represent entire ecoregions and an approach for integrating models and data.

CCSI Scientists Co-author NASA’s Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment Research Plan

Climate science researcher Daniel Hayes of the Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, along with Eric Kasischke of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the University of Maryland, co-chaired the science definition team charged with formulating the research plan for the Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE). Stan Wullschleger, CCSI scientist and lead principal investigator for the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments–Arctic (NGEE–Arctic), also served on the ABoVE science definition team. ABoVE is a large-scale study of environmental change in the Arctic and boreal region of western North America and its implications for ecological and societal systems.

CCSI Researchers Host Discussion Series on Complexity

Complex systems are difficult to understand, yet complexity is a fundamental characteristic of climate, ecology, biology, and seemingly unrelated fields involving neutrons, transportation technology, and material sciences. In an attempt to bring scientists and engineers from these disciplines together, two Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) investigators, David Weston and Stan Wullschleger, organized a four-part series of Brown Bag discussions at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) on complex systems. Each week a different question was posed to the audience including:

Research in Panama for Real-World Climate Model Data

CCSI Researcher’s Work on Photosynthesis in Jungle Leads to Crowdsourcing Data at Home

Last year Lianhong Gu, an ecosystem scientist, and Anthony Walker, an ecological modeler, both with the Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), journeyed to the Parque Natural Metropolitano rainforest reserve in the heart of Panama City. They were on a 2-week scientific expedition. The goal: to measure photosynthesis in various tree species to provide climate models with more accurate input data. 

Slide image details

Slide images provided by Jamison Daniel, NCCS.

Slide 1 Image InformationOcean Temperature at 5 meters using POP2. Slide 2 Image InformationTime evolving atmospheric CO2 concentration in the atmosphere as simulated using the NASA GEOS-5 (Global Earth Observing System) model running on Jaguar at ORNL. The higher CO2 concentrations in the northern hemisphere are due to anthropogenic emissions Slide 3 Image InformationAssessing Transient Global Climate Response using the NCAR-CCSM3: Climate Sensitivity and Abrupt Climate Change. Simulations show deglaciation during the Bølling-Allerød, Earth’s most recent period of natural global warming. Slide 4 Image InformationCCSM3 T341 – TMQ (Water Vapor) – 2005 Averages – Pseudo-color plot exploration. Slide 5 Image InformationThe instantaneous Net Ecosystem Exchange (NEE) a measure of the atmospheric-terrestrial exchange of carbon as simulated with a version of the CCSM3 model that includes a terrestrial carbon modeling capability. The red colored areas in the snapshot show regions for which there is an enhanced uptake of carbon by the terrestrial ecosystem as the sun rises over the western hemisphere during Boreal summer. The lighter green colored areas show regions where there is a net source of carbon to the atmosphere in part due to vegetation respiration. This simulation was conducted as part of the C-LAMP project.