Projects Address the Role of Plant-Mediated Water Redistribution, Wildfires and Floods, and Fungal Networks on Environmental System Processes

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $10 million in funding for 12 projects to universities, academic institutions, federal research labs, and nonprofits within the area of Environmental System Science (ESS) research. Grants will focus on studies intended to improve the understanding and representation of the impact of wildfires and floods on ecosystems and watersheds, as well the role of plant-mediated water redistribution and fungal networks in shaping ecosystem and watershed function. 

“The DOE invests in Earth system science by tightly coordinating field-based experimental research with system modeling,” said Gary Geernaert, DOE Acting Associate Director of Science for Biological and Environmental Research (BER). “This approach enables more rapid progress in scientific discovery and improves our ability to advance climate predictions for extreme environmental conditions.”

Current models lack appropriate representation of important interactions among physical, hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological aspects of the Earth system. By coupling experiments, observations, and models, interdisciplinary teams of scientists will work to unravel these complex processes to improve understanding of the structure and function of watersheds and ecosystems across spatial and temporal scales. It is expected that the grants will advance critically needed observational and experimental research and model development aimed at improving the accuracy of today’s Earth and environmental system models and predictive capabilities.

Projects include research funded under three topical areas:

  • Plant-Mediated Ecohydrology projects will investigate plant hydraulic redistribution and its influence on ecosystem/watershed function.
  • Wildfire or Floods and System Processes projects will improve understanding and model representation of the impacts and responses of environmental processes following wildfires or floods.
  • Fungal Network Shaping of System Function projects will investigate fungal-mediated plant-soil interactions in response to environmental factors or stresses.

The projects were selected by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for Environmental System Science sponsored by the BER program within the Department’s Office of Science.

Total funding is $10 million for projects lasting up to three years in duration. The list of projects and more information can be found here.