Washington, D.C.— Despite overwhelming scientific evidence for the impending dangers of human-made climate change, policy decisions leading to substantial emissions reduction have been slow. New work...
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Washington, D.C.— Plants convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy during a process called photosynthesis. This energy is passed on to humans and animals that eat the plants, and thus...
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Washington, D.C.— In many ways, plants act as chemical factories, using energy from sunlight to produce carbon-based energy and taking nutrients from the soil in order to synthesize a wide variety of...
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YouTubeWashington, D.C.— The pace of global warming over the last century has been about twice as rapid over land than over the oceans and...
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Washington, D.C.--Christopher Field, the founding director of Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology and co-chair of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), Working...
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AudioWashington, D.C.— Forest conservation is an issue of major concern to communities large and small around the globe. But gathering the...
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October 28, 2013 For the first time, researchers have been able to map the true extent of gold mining in the biologically diverse region of Madre De Dios in the Peruvian Amazon. The team, led by Greg...
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Washington, D.C.— Government calculations of total U.S. methane emissions may underestimate the true values by 50 percent, a new study finds. The results are published the week of November 25 in the...
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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake...
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Coral reefs are havens for marine biodiversity and underpin the economies of many coastal communities. But they are very sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to pollution, warming waters, overdevelopment, and overfishing. Reefs use a mineral...
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Chris Field is a co-principal investigator of the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in northern California. The site, designed to exploit grasslands as models for understanding how ecosystems may respond to climate change, hosts a number of studies of the...
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Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on characterizing complexity and quantifying uncertainty in environmental systems to improve our understanding of these systems and our ability to...
Meet this Scientist
Ken Caldeira has been a Carnegie investigator since 2005 and is world renowned for his modeling and other work on the global carbon cycle; marine biogeochemistry and chemical oceanography, including ocean acidification and the atmosphere/ocean carbon cycle; land-cover and climate change; the long-...
Meet this Scientist
Joe Berry has been a Carnegie investigator since 1972. He has developed powerful tools to measure local and regional exchanges of carbon over spaces of up to thousands of square miles. He uses information at the plant scale to extrapolate the carbon balance at regional and continental scales....
Meet this Scientist
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“This is humanity as a geologic force,” Ken Caldeira tells the New York Times. “We’re not a subtle influence on the climate system – we are really hitting it with a...
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"Some of the scariest prospects from a changing clime involve conditions completely outside the range of human experience," Department of Global Ecology Director Chris Field tells the...
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Planet Labs contributes an essay to Medium about Greg Asner and the Carnegie Airborne Observatory using LiDAR and satellite imagery to map the California drought, calls the CAO "a fire-fighter...
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Explore Carnegie Science

Energy efficient house by Mikhail Grachikov, Shutterstock.
August 27, 2019

Washington, DC— Taxing carbon emissions would drive innovation and lead to improved energy efficiency, according to a new paper published in Joule from Carnegie’s Rong Wang (now at Fudan University), Harry Saunders, and Ken Caldeira, along with Juan Moreno-Cruz of the University of Waterloo.

Despite advances in solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, fossil fuels remain the primary source of the climate-change-causing carbon emissions. In order to halt global warming at the 2 degrees Celsius limit set by the Paris Agreement, we must reduce and eventually stop or completely offset carbon released into the atmosphere by burning of oil, coal, and gas.

USGS photo of Mount Pinatubo erupting
August 5, 2019

Washington, DC— Major volcanic eruptions spew ash particles into the atmosphere, which reflect some of the Sun’s radiation back into space and cool the planet. But could this effect be intentionally recreated to fight climate change? A new paper in Geophysical Research Letters investigates.

Solar geoengineering is a theoretical approach to curbing the effects of climate change by seeding the atmosphere with a regularly replenished layer of intentionally released aerosol particles. Proponents sometimes describe it as being like a “human-made” volcano.

“Nobody likes the idea of intentionally tinkering with our climate system at global scale,

Public domain image of power plant with smokestacks
July 1, 2019

Washington, DC—If power plants, boilers, furnaces, vehicles, and other energy infrastructure is not marked for early retirement, the world will fail to meet the 1.5-degree Celsius climate-stabilizing goal set out by the Paris Agreement, but could still reach the 2-degree Celsius goal, says the latest from the ongoing collaboration between the University of California Irvine’s Steven Davis and Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira.

To achieve the objective of limiting warming to no greater than 2 degrees Celsius—or, more optimistically, to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius—it will be necessary to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.

In this new paper,

An image of the algal blooms in Lake Erie taken in July 2015. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
April 24, 2019

Washington, DC—Changes in temperature and precipitation have already impacted the amount of nitrogen introduced into U.S. waterways, according to new research from a team of three Carnegie ecologists published this week in Environmental Science & Technology.

Nitrogen from agriculture and other human activities washes into waterways, which, in excess, creates a dangerous phenomenon called eutrophication. This can lead to toxin-producing algal blooms or low-oxygen dead zones called hypoxia. Over the past several summers, dead zones and algal blooms in lake and coastal regions across the United States have received extensive news coverage.

Carnegie’s Anna

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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures. The bloom began in the western region in mid-July and covered an area of 230 square miles (600 km2). At its peak in October, the bloom had expanded to over 1930 square miles (5000 km2). Its peak intensity was over 3 times greater than any other bloom on record. The scientists predicted that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience

Chris Field is a co-principal investigator of the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in northern California. The site, designed to exploit grasslands as models for understanding how ecosystems may respond to climate change, hosts a number of studies of the potential effects from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, elevated temperature, increased precipitation, and increased nitrogen deposition. The site houses experimental plots that replicate all possible combinations of the four treatments and additional sampling sites that control for the effects of project infrastructure. Studies focus on several integrated ecosystem responses to the

Until now, computer models have been the primary tool for estimating photosynthetic productivity on a global scale. They are based on estimating a measure for plant energy called gross primary production (GPP), which is the rate at which plants capture and store a unit of chemical energy as biomass over a specific time. Joe Berry was part of a team that took an entirely new approach by using satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis as shown by the artwork.

The plant produces fluorescent light when sunlight excites the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll. Satellite instruments sense this fluorescence yielding a direct

Coral reefs are havens for marine biodiversity and underpin the economies of many coastal communities. But they are very sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to pollution, warming waters, overdevelopment, and overfishing. Reefs use a mineral called aragonite, a naturally occurring form of calcium carbonate, CaCO3, to make their skeletons.  When carbon dioxide, CO2, from the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, it forms carbonic acid—the same stuff that makes soda fizz--making the ocean more acidic and thus more difficult for many marine organisms to grow their shells and skeletons and threatening coral reefs globally.

Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on characterizing complexity and quantifying uncertainty in environmental systems to improve our understanding of these systems and our ability to forecast their variability. She is looking at a variety of interactions including atmospheric greenhouse gas emission and sequestration estimation, water quality monitoring and contaminant source identification, and use of remote sensing data for Earth system characterization.

The common theme of her research is to develop and apply spatiotemporal statistical data methods for optimizing the

Ken Caldeira has been a Carnegie investigator since 2005 and is world renowned for his modeling and other work on the global carbon cycle; marine biogeochemistry and chemical oceanography, including ocean acidification and the atmosphere/ocean carbon cycle; land-cover and climate change; the long-term evolution of climate and geochemical cycles; climate intervention proposals; and energy technology.

 Caldeira was a lead author for the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 report and was coordinating lead author of the oceans chapter for the 2005 IPCC report on carbon capture and storage. He was a co-author of the 2010 US National Academy America

Joe Berry has been a Carnegie investigator since 1972. He has developed powerful tools to measure local and regional exchanges of carbon over spaces of up to thousands of square miles. He uses information at the plant scale to extrapolate the carbon balance at regional and continental scales.

According to ISI's Web of Science, two of Joe Berry's papers passed extremely high, rarefied citation milestones. The 1980  paper “A biochemical model of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation in leaves of C3 species,” has had over 1,500th citations. His 1982 paper “On the relationship between carbon isotope discrimination and the intercellular carbon dioxide