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First Direct Observations of Methane’s Increasing Greenhouse Effect at the Earth’s Surface

A Berkeley Lab research team tracked a rise in the warming effect of methane – one of the most important greenhouse gases for the Earth’s atmosphere – over a 10-year period at a DOE field observation site in northern Oklahoma.

Sewage Sludge Leads to Biofuels Breakthrough

Researchers at Joint BioEnergy Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a new enzyme that will enable microbial production of a renewable alternative to petroleum-based toluene, a widely used octane booster in gasoline that has a global market of 29 million tons per year.

Plants Really Do Feed Their Friends

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have discovered that as plants develop they craft their root microbiome, favoring microbes that consume very specific metabolites. Their study could help scientists identify ways to enhance the soil microbiome for improved carbon storage and plant productivity.

Understanding Effects of Climate Change on California Watersheds

California relies on the Sierra Nevada snowpack for a significant portion of its water needs, yet scientists understand very little about how future changes in snowpack volume and timing will influence surface water and groundwater. Now researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are developing an advanced hydrologic model to study how climate change might affect California watersheds.

Berkeley Lab Aims for Big Breakthroughs in Water Technology

Berkeley Lab is launching a new research institute to focus resources on its growing portfolio of projects for water innovation – from nano-engineered desalination solutions to ultra-high resolution climate modeling for watershed predictions to novel groundwater management approaches.

Digging Deep: Harnessing the Power of Soil Microbes for More Sustainable Farming

How will the farms of the future feed a projected 9.8 billion people by 2050? Berkeley Lab’s “smart farm” project marries microbiology and machine learning in an effort to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and enhance soil carbon uptake, thus improving the long-term viability of the land while increasing crop yields.

Assessing the Impact of Hurricanes on Puerto Rico’s Forests

Building on methods they used to assess the impact of hurricanes such as Katrina, Gustav, and Rita on forests and tree mortality, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have produced a rapid mapping of the disturbance intensity across Puerto Rico’s forests with the help of Google Earth Engine.

Dark Fiber: Using Sensors Beneath Our Feet to Tell Us About Earthquakes, Water, and Other Geophysical Phenomena

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have shown for the first time that dark fiber – the vast network of unused fiber-optic cables installed throughout the country and the world – can be used as sensors for detecting earthquakes, the presence of groundwater, changes in permafrost conditions, and a variety of other subsurface activity.

Research Becomes Reality in Study of Fire Impact on Sonoma Water Resources

Catastrophic fires in Northern California burned more than 110,000 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties last month – including 8 percent of the Russian River watershed. Now with the rainy season underway Berkeley Lab’s research – which seeks to understand how the hydrology and microbiology of the surface and groundwater system respond to extreme events – has become even more critical.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Help Map the Microbiome of Everything

In the Earth Microbiome Project, an extensive global team collected more than 27,000 samples from numerous, diverse environments around the globe. They analyzed the unique collections of microbes – the microbiomes – living in each sample to generate the first reference database of bacteria colonizing the planet. Thanks to newly standardized protocols, original analytical methods and open data-sharing, the project will continue to grow and improve as new data are added. The paper describing this effort, published November