WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to provide $10 million for new grants to universities, academic institutions, federal research labs, and nonprofits, within the area of Environmental System Science (ESS) research. Grants will focus on studies to improve the understanding and representation of the impact of wildfires and floods on ecosystems and watersheds, as well the role of fungal networks and water movement by plants in shaping ecosystem and watershed function. It is expected that 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 predictions.

Earth system models will benefit from improving the way important events, like wildfires and floods, as well as certain ecosystem interactions, are represented. 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.

“Coupling of observational and experimental research with model development has been a hallmark of DOE-supported research in this area,” said Dr. Sharlene Weatherwax, Associate Director of Science for Biological and Environmental Research. “This approach will result in a better grasp of critical processes within climate systems that are needed to improve the ability of climate models to predict the future and aid in addressing the nation’s climate challenges.”

The Department anticipates that $10 million will be available for this funding opportunity in Fiscal Year 2022.  Funding is to be awarded competitively, based on peer review, and is expected to be in the form of one-, two-, or three-year grants. 

Research funded under this funding opportunity will address three areas. The first focuses on ecosystem and watershed responses to plant-mediated water movement processes. The second focuses on the impact of wildfire or floods on system function. The third area focuses on limited-scope investigations of the role of fungal networks in shaping ecosystem function. 

The DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement, issued by DOE’s Office of Science, can be found here.

More information on the Office of Biological and Environmental Research can be found here.  More information on the Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Division and the Environmental System Sciences Program can be found here.