Department of Energy

Areas of Global Change Research. Research by DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research (formerly Office of Health and Environmental Research) addresses the effects of energy production and use on the global Earth system primarily through studies of climate response. It includes research in climate modeling, atmospheric chemistry and transport, atmospheric properties and processes affecting the Earth's radiant energy balance, sources and sinks of energy-related greenhouse gases (primarily CO2), consequences of atmospheric and climatic changes on vegetation and ecosystems, critical data needs for global change research and for early detection of climatic change, support of scientifically based assessments of environmental and economic consequences of climate change, and funding for education and training of scientists and researchers in global change.

DOE Program Title FY97 FY98 FY99
OBER Atmospheric Chemistry and Carbon Cycle 22.8 22.6 24.9
OBER Climate and Hydrology 64.7 61.7 64.1
OBER Ecological Processes 12.6 12.3 12.0
OBER Human Interactions 8.9 9.0 9.2
OBER Small Business Innovative Research/Technology Transfer 0.0 2.8 3.0
Total  109.0 108.4
President's Request  112.4 110.1 113.2
OBER Office of Biological and Environmental Research

FY99 Program Highlights. To support its global change research efforts, the DOE Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program utilizes the unique multidisciplinary capabilities and facilities of the DOE National Laboratories and supports research projects and research infrastructure at National Laboratories, universities, and other research institutions. A new focus of activities is carbon management and fundamental studies underpinning the development of new techniques for climate mitigation, including carbon sequestration and ecosystem adaptation. In support of the USGCRP, the BER program includes activities in four key areas:

  1. Climate and Hydrology:  The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program, developed in recognition that the effects of clouds on the Earth's radiative energy balance are a major source of uncertainty in climate models, focuses on the improvement of climate prediction and climate parameters by providing data addressing clouds and their interactions with solar and terrestrial radiation obtained through ground-based, airborne (manned and unmanned), and satellite platforms. In FY99, key activities of the ARM program will be the further development and utilization of measurement capabilities at the Tropical Western Pacific site, deployment of instruments on an ice island in cooperation with the SHEBA Program, initial operation of the Barrow site on the North Slope of Alaska, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights over the Southern Great Plains and Pacific ARM sites.

    Climate modeling, with an emphasis on the Computer Hardware, Advanced Mathematics and Model Physics (CHAMMP) program, expands the current theoretical basis of climate dynamics and continuously optimizes computer models (from all agencies) for climate prediction and assessment of climate change. The Program on Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) develops and implements improved methods and tools for the diagnosis, testing, and intercomparison of general circulation models (GCMs). Key FY99 activities of the CHAMMP program will center on improvements in GCM parameterizations for cloud liquid water structure and resultant radiation fields at tropical, arctic, and mid-latitudes.

  2. Atmospheric Chemistry and Carbon Cycle:  The Atmospheric Science Program is focused on developing a comprehensive understanding of the atmospheric processes that control the transport, transformation, and fate of energy-related air pollutants. Research activities to improve understanding, both through experimental and modeling efforts, of the chemical and physical processes affecting energy-related air pollutants such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides, tropospheric ozone, and aerosols, and of meteorological processes that control the dispersion of material released to the atmosphere are of particular interest. A Gulfstream 1 twin turboprop aircraft research facility equipped for measurements in atmospheric chemistry, aerosols, turbulence, and radiant energy will be maintained and deployed to support field measurement campaigns.

    The Terrestrial Carbon Processes (TCP) program improves the understanding of the biophysical processes of terrestrial ecosystems that affect exchanges of CO2 between the atmosphere and biosphere. Removal of excess CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestration by natural mechanisms are estimated through a network of sites making CO2, biophysical, and ecological measurements. In FY99, TCP, the Program on Ecosystem Research (PER), and the National Institute for Global Environmental Change (NIGEC) will continue the AmeriFlux CO2 measurement network for estimating net exchange of CO2 between the atmosphere and major terrestrial ecosystems in North and Central America. The resulting empirical data are used for testing ecosystem process models of net carbon exchange and for calibration of inverse and global carbon cycle models. New efforts will focus on an increased understanding of the way natural systems can be induced to increase the net uptake of CO2 in the terrestrial biosphere, including the role of microorganisms in relevant biochemical processes. Other new activities will focus on the climate variability impact on ecological parameters, including carbon sequestration.

  3. Ecological Processes:  The BER programs dealing with ecological processes focus on improving understanding of the consequences of atmospheric and climate changes and variation on terrestrial ecosystem properties and processes. Emphasis is on experimental studies to understand the combined effects of changes in climate and atmospheric composition, including elevated temperature, altered precipitation, and elevated CO2 and ozone. The vegetation subprogram of TCP and PER investigate the response of terrestrial vegetation and ecosystems to human-induced changes in atmospheric composition and climate variables. In FY99, PER, TCP, and the NIGEC programs will continue to support experimental and modeling studies to improve the scientific basis for assessing the consequences of human-induced climate changes and increases in atmospheric CO2 and tropospheric ozone on major terrestrial ecosystems and resources. The research includes Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Exchange (FACE) experiments to examine responses of terrestrial vegetation and ecosystems, including forest, desert, grassland, and savannah ecosystems to elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2. It also includes a major field experiment to examine the effects of altered precipitation on a deciduous forest ecosystem.

  4. Human Dimensions:  The Integrated Assessment program analyzes the entire climate change system, from emissions through impacts. The program supports the analysis of benefits and costs as well as helps in presenting the results of the USGCRP to the policy process. Specific topics, such as technology innovation and diffusion, are funded in addition to general assessment modeling efforts. NIGEC supports research to develop and improve models used to assess the regional economic and social consequences of climate change due to alterations in water, agricultural, and forestry resources. A combined education and research program for minority colleges and universities focuses on developing collaborative global change research ties between minority colleges and universities and ongoing global change research programs at the DOE laboratories, thereby diversifying and increasing America's scientific workforce in global change research.

The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), a component of the U.S. Global Change Data and Information System (GCDIS), provides access to current global-change information and quality-assured and fully documented numeric data, technical publications, newsletters, and research summaries.

The National Institute for Global Environmental Change (NIGEC) supports research at universities on all four programmatic areas of DOE's global change research priorities, with emphasis in FY99 on supporting research at several of the AmeriFlux sites and on implementing scientifically-based assessments of the consequences of climate change on forest, agricultural, and water resources in the western, central, and southeastern United States.

Related Research. DOE supports research on technologies and strategies to mitigate the increases in CO2 and other energy-related greenhouse gases and plays a major role in implementing the President's Climate Change Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through changes in energy supply and improvements in energy efficiency and conservation. DOE has a major role in meeting the President's challenge to develop new technologies for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and its basic research portfolio has increased focus on science that will underpin carbon mitigation and carbon sequestration and increase our understanding of ecosystem adaptation. In addition, DOE conducts research related to energy issues, including basic research in plant and microbial biology; technologies to improve energy efficiency and conservation and alternative energy technologies to reduce or replace carbon-based fuels for energy production; and international environmental policy studies.

Mapping of Budget Request to Appropriations Legislation. In the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, DOE USGCRP activities are funded under Title III-Department of Energy, within the Energy Supply, Research, and Development Activities account. In Appropriations Committee reports, funding for DOE's USGCRP programs is included within the budget for Biological and Environmental Research.