As Arctic fire intensity and frequency increases, Berkeley Lab scientists study microbes’ influence on post-wildfire conditions and show that more microbial activity may speed up recovery
The third and final installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Sixth Assessment Report calls for aggressive and comprehensive actions if we are to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century. It finds we still need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically, beyond what governments have pledged, and that this emissions gap is exacerbated by implementation gaps despite the mitigation efforts underway.
Physicists and soil scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have teamed up to develop a new method for finding carbon stored in the soil by plants and microbes. This new method for measuring carbon pulled out of the air promises to be an important tool for fighting climate change and developing more ecologically friendly forms of agriculture.
The Salton Sea geothermal field in California potentially holds enough lithium to meet all of America’s domestic battery needs, with even enough left over to export some of it. But how much of that lithium can be extracted in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way? And how long will the resource last? These are just a few of the questions that researchers hope to answer in a new project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Space exploration has allowed humans to journey from earth to space – but humans may not be the only organisms hitching a ride by spacecraft. Microbiologists who study extreme environments are on the lookout for microorganisms present on spacecraft surfaces that could potentially contaminate the pristine environments of outer space. Now a new fungal strain has been discovered in a spacecraft assembly facility and named after a long-time Berkeley Lab microbiologist, Tamas Torok.
Three staff researchers and one affiliate have been elected into the 2021 class of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Geoscientists from Berkeley Lab and two other DOE National Laboratories, Sandia and Los Alamos, are collaborating on the HotBENT project. This international field experiment is evaluating how well the natural, clay-based material (bentonite) placed around canisters of buried, high-level nuclear waste retains its safety functions when exposed to simulated long-term heating.
An international team of researchers used a novel methodology combining remote sensing, machine learning, and terrestrial biosphere models to find that plants are photosynthesizing more, to the tune of 12% higher global photosynthesis from 1982 to 2020. In that same time period, global carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere grew about 17%, from 360 parts per million (ppm) to 420 ppm.
For geothermal fields around the world, produced geothermal brine has been simply injected back underground, but now it’s become clear that the brines produced at the Salton Sea geothermal field contain an immense amount of lithium, a critical resource need for low-carbon transportation and energy storage. Demand for lithium is skyrocketing, as it is an essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries. Currently there is very little lithium production in the U.S. and most lithium is imported; however, that may change in the near future.
A Q&A with a Berkeley Lab scientist on how a comprehensive low-cost, high-tech approach to pinpointing California super emitters could bring about rapid methane emissions reduction within a decade.