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Major Advance in Artificial Photosynthesis Poses Win/Win for the Environment

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By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, a potentially game-changing new artificial photosynthesis system offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide.

New Insights on Carbonic Acid in Water

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A new study by Berkeley Lab researchers provides valuable new insight into aqueous carbonic acid with important implications for both geological and biological concerns.

A New Species in the Amazon Rain Forest – Scientists

The Amazon Basin in South America includes the most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest on the planet, covering 5.5 million square kilometers. Due to the sheer size of  the Amazon rainforest, the area has a strong impact on the climate in the Southern Hemisphere and is a primary driver of global atmospheric circulation. Berkeley Lab researchers joined Energy Department (DOE) officials and scientific collaborators from the United States, Brazil, and Germany, last week in Brazil to open a two-year field study in the Amazon Basin.

Trials (and Tribulations) at Sea Can’t Keep Carbon Explorers on the Beach

Somewhere between tossing Jonah overboard and hanging that albatross around the Ancient Mariner’s neck, sailors acquired a reputation for superstition. It takes a clear-headed oceanographer to resist joining them, especially after a string of bad luck at sea involving the number 13. Jim Bishop of Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division (ESD), a professor in UC

In the Field: Counting Trees in the Amazon Jungle

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Jeff Chambers’ path to the Amazon forest started 20 years ago in an unlikely place: Livermore, California. Since then, he has bushwhacked through dense woodland, traveled hundreds of miles down jungle rivers, had close encounters with the world’s most painful ant and near misses with deadly snakes—all in the name of science.

New Research Will Help Shed Light on Role of Amazon Forests in Global Carbon Cycle

Berkeley Lab scientist Jeffrey Chambers in the Amazon forest instrumenting the upper canopy from a 30-meter tower with micro-meteorological sensors. (Photos courtesy Jeffrey Chambers)

Scientist Jeffrey Chambers and colleagues at Berkeley Lab have devised an analytical method that combines satellite images, simulation modeling and painstaking fieldwork to help researchers detect forest mortality patterns and trends. This new tool will enhance understanding of the role of forests in carbon sequestration and the impact of climate change on such disturbances.

What Kind of Iron is in the Southern Ocean?

At bottom left, the kinds of iron species found in two transects of the Southern Ocean are shown in descending order from most soluble (yellow and red) to least soluble (blue and purple). The pie charts at right show the proportions of each species sampled at points between the SANAE base and Cape Town, and the pie charts at left show the samples between SANAE and South Georgia Island. (ACC stands for Antarctic Circumpolar Current.) The map shows chlorophyll concentrations in milligrams per cubic meter, per the scale at bottom right. There is a rough tendency for soluble iron regions to show greater chlorophyll concentrations.

The Southern Ocean, circling the Earth between Antarctica and the southernmost regions of Africa, South America, and Australia, is notorious for its High Nutrient, Low Chlorophyl zones, areas otherwise rich in nutrients but poor in essential iron. Sea life is less abundant in these regions because the growth of phytoplankton, the marine plants that form

Rust Never Sleeps

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A multi-institutional team led by scientists at Berkeley Lab have directly observed electron hopping in iron oxide particles, a phenomonon that holds huge significance for a broad range of environment- and energy-related applications.

How Energy Analysis Can Create More Bang For the Energy Research Buck

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Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are working on a wide variety of clean energy technologies—from biofuels to batteries to solar energy—but now these disparate efforts are being tied together with an in-depth and innovative analytical approach that will show which technologies are the most beneficial to pursue. The analysis will also give feedback to scientists before a technology hits the marketplace, allowing them to adjust and refine the technology so as to maximize its economic and environmental impact.

A New Kind of Carbon Explorer Rides Out the Storm

A series from the new Carbon Flux Explorer’s optical sedimentation recorder shows three views of the same collection of carbon-containing particles and live invading organisms, which descend from surface waters at dawn (shown for their beauty, although they rarely get into the system). The images are 26 millimeters across, a little over an inch, and resolution is 10 millionths of a meter. The three lighting modes are, left, dark field (side) illumination; middle, transmitted light; and right, cross-polarized light, which can detect birefringent calcium carbonate – the small, very bright particles – and structures in some organisms. Two living larval ctenophores (comb jellies) are at left and right. The buckyball shape at top is a dead radiolarian, a one-celled animal with a silica skeleton. The carbon sedimentation is composed of a half-dozen amorphous aggregates and a dead crustacean.

Carbon Explorers have produced detailed information on the carbon cycle in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans – information that would be unaffordable or even impossible to obtain from shipboard. Now a new breed of Carbon Flux Explorers not only measures day-by-day variations in biomass sediment, they can determine exactly what’s in each collected sample. Knowing what’s in the sediment, including what’s eating the detritus, adds essential knowledge for understanding the ocean carbon cycle.