News Center

Microbial Response to a Changing and Fire-Prone Arctic Ecosystem

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

Quantifying California’s Lithium Valley: Can It Power Our EV Revolution?

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.

What’s in a Name for a New Fungal Strain?

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 Berkeley Lab Scientists Receive AAAS Fellowship

Three staff researchers and one affiliate have been elected into the 2021 class of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

National Labs Support Safe Nuclear Waste Disposal by Studying Safety Material for Underground Sites

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.

Plants Buy Us Time to Slow Climate Change – But Not Enough to Stop It

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.

Sizing Up the Challenges in Extracting Lithium from Geothermal Brine

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.

Methane’s Short Lifespan Presents Golden Opportunity to Quickly Address Climate Change

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.

New Technology Sees Underground to Assess Crop Roots

Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a new sensing technology to assess crops by “seeing” into the soil while keeping a plant’s roots intact. Tomographic Electrical Rhizosphere Imager (TERI) placed first this month in a Bayer Crop Science Grants4Tech competition that evaluated how novel sensing devices can collect key root trait data, including mass, length, and diameter of important agriculture crops, such as corn and soybean, in the field without disturbing the plant.

Improved Earth System Model Could Help Better Predict Impact of Extreme Events

Berkeley Lab scientists have contributed to improving the land component of the latest release of this earth system model – dubbed E3SM2 – which can now generate more precise simulations twice as fast as before.