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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Data scientists Ranjeet Devarakonda, Giri Palanisamy, and Biva Shrestha with the Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and collaborators with the US Department of the Interior United States Geological Survey (USGS) have jointly developed the USGS Science Data Catalog for earth science data. CCSI worked on the database index, search engine, and user interface for the project, which began last November under an interagency agreement between the two organizations.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Climate Change Science Institute researcher, Bai Yang, is a co-author of a Nature Climate Change article “Net carbon uptake has increased through warming-induced changes in temperate forest phenology” published on June 1. The paper analyzes seasonal shifts in plant life cycles, known as phenology, in select eastern United States forests using long-term data from ground observations, satellites, and terrestrial biosphere models. Yang and ORNL’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center provided meteorological and ecosystem carbon flux records for sites analyzed in the paper. The paper concludes that earlier springs and later autumns are resulting in increased carbon uptake, a process that may reduce the rate of increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide and slow the rate of global warming.