Energy efficient house by Mikhail Grachikov, Shutterstock.
Washington, DC— Taxing carbon emissions would drive innovation and lead to improved energy efficiency, according to a new paper published in...
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USGS photo of Mount Pinatubo erupting
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...
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Public domain image of power plant with smokestacks
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-...
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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.
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...
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Anemone. California, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photographer: Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR.
Washington, DC—Tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean are consumed by sea anemones along with their food, and bleached anemones retain these microfibers longer than healthy ones, according to...
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Aerial view of red tide along Florida’s gulf coast - summer/fall 2018 by Ryan McGill, purchased form Shutterstock
Washington, DC—Strategies for limiting climate change must take into account their potential impact on water quality through nutrient overload, according to a new study from Carnegie’s...
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Subalpine forests of the Colorado Rockies are expected to be strongly affected by climate change. Photo courtesy of Lee Anderegg.
Washington, DC— On the mountain slopes of the western United States, climate can play a major role in determining which tree communities will thrive in the harshest conditions, according to new...
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Coal mine, public domain
Washington, DC—Chinese regulations on coal mining have not curbed the nation’s growing methane emissions as intended, says new research from a team led by Carnegie’s Scot...
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In March 2014, a technical support unit (TSU) of ten, headquartered at Global Ecology, had successfully completed a herculean management effort for the 2000-page assessment Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, including two summaries. They were issued by the United Nations (...
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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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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...
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Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. She was named Director of the Department of Global Ecology in 2020. Her research focuses on characterizing complexity and quantifying uncertainty in environmental systems...
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
Ken Caldeira was a Carnegie investigator from 2005 to 2020 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
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Global biological diversity is under enormous and increasing threat from habitat loss caused by land use and climate change. Responding to this problem requires strategies that integrate elements of...
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“The system produces maps that tell us more about an ecosystem in a single airborne overpass than what might be achieved in a lifetime of work on the ground,” Greg Asner tells National...
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In the United States, the amount of nitrogen originating from human sources, particularly fertilizer, is four times the amount that comes from natural sources. The U.S. Environmental Protection...
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Explore Carnegie Science

December 15, 2020

Washington, DC— Developing nations have an opportunity to avoid long-term dependence on fossil fuel-burning infrastructure as they move toward economic stability, even if they are slow to cut carbon emissions, say the authors of a new paper in Environmental Research Letters.

Countries with low per capita incomes can keep their contributions to global warming to 0.3 degrees Celsius with careful foresight and planning, urge Carnegie’s Lei Duan and Ken Caldeira with Juan Moreno-Cruz of the University of Waterloo. However, fueling economic development with coal, oil, or gas risks locking societies into a fossil-fuel burning infrastructure in the long-term, the authors

September 29, 2020

Washington, DC— A 10-year effort by China to improve air quality and reduce pollution-related health risks has caused warming in areas across the northern hemisphere, according to new work published in Environmental Research Letters.

Aerosols are tiny particles that are spewed into the atmosphere by human activities, such as burning coal and wood, or by geological phenomena, like volcanos. Their negative effects on air quality can damage human health and agricultural productivity.

Similar to how the aerosols emitted in a volcanic eruption can cause global temperatures to drop, some aerosols from human activity also have a cooling effect on the climate. Unlike

Anna Michalak
August 19, 2020

Palo Alto, CA—Anna Michalak has been named the Director of Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology. As a world-renowned researcher, her leadership will be invaluable as Carnegie works to rebuild the department and to establish its new home in Pasadena.

Michalak's work centers on characterizing the emissions and cycling of greenhouse gases on scales ranging from urban to global, making it possible to track and anticipate changes in carbon emissions and uptake. She also explores the impacts of climate change on water quality in freshwater and coastal systems in support of water sustainability goals. These research areas demonstrate the urgent

Caltech logo
March 17, 2020

The Carnegie Institution for Science is consolidating our California research departments into an expanded presence in Pasadena. With this move, we are building on our existing relationship with Caltech, with a goal of broadening our historic collaborations in astronomy and astrophysics and pursuing new opportunities in ecology and plant biology that will support the global fight against climate change.

This plan, which affects our research operations in Pasadena and Palo Alto, reflects Carnegie’s ongoing efforts to extend our leadership in space, Earth, and life sciences and to enhance our ability to explore new frontiers.

In selecting our Pasadena location, we

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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 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’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

In March 2014, a technical support unit (TSU) of ten, headquartered at Global Ecology, had successfully completed a herculean management effort for the 2000-page assessment Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, including two summaries. They were issued by the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group II co-chaired by Chris Field, Global Ecology director, with science co-directors Katie Mach and Mike Mastrandrea managing the input of over 190 governments and nearly 2,000 experts from around the world.

The IPCC, established in 1988, assesses information about climate change and its impacts. In September 2008, Field was

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

Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. She was named Director of the Department of Global Ecology in 2020. 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

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

Ken Caldeira was a Carnegie investigator from 2005 to 2020 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