27 Projects Aim to Improve Predictive Power of Earth System Models

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $15 million in funding for 27 projects in atmospheric and ecological sciences in an effort to improve the power of Earth system models to predict weather and climate.

“Improving Earth system modeling and prediction capabilities is a critical step in mitigating future risks to the Nation’s energy supplies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “By helping us to better understand our environment, these investments in science will help us maintain a strong energy infrastructure and reliable energy supplies while also ensuring that America remains at the forefront of energy sciences and technology.”

Selected projects cover a range of topics in both atmospheric and terrestrial ecosystem studies, ranging from the role of aerosols in cloud formations to the impact of hurricane damage on carbon cycling in Puerto Rican forests.

The resulting data and analysis will help improve Earth system models, which are large-scale simulations of environmental processes run on powerful supercomputers, by providing more accurate representations of processes that govern behaviors of the atmosphere, oceans, terrestrial ecosystems, cryosphere (land and sea ice), and human infrastructure. 

Understanding how these components interact is important for predictive capabilities, especially because of the uncertainties surrounding the behavior of clouds and atmospheric aerosols. In addition, knowing how extreme events associated with storms and wildfires affect model predictions and how changes in sea ice and permafrost are represented in models is vitally important.

Funded projects will address the science needed to reduce model uncertainty, involving cloud-aerosol interactions, extreme weather, ecological dynamics, and ecological disturbance. 

Projects were chosen by competitive peer review under two separate DOE Funding Opportunity Announcements, one under the Atmospheric System Research program and another under the Environmental System Science program. Both programs are sponsored by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the Department’s Office of Science.

Funding totals $15 million for projects lasting three years in duration.  A list of projects can be found HERE