News Center

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.

Managing Water Resources in a Low-to-No-Snow Future

A new Berkeley Lab analysis finds that if greenhouse gas emissions continue along the high-emissions scenario, low-to-no-snow winters will become a regular occurrence in the western U.S. in 35 to 60 years.

Berkeley Lab Mobilizes to Predict How Caldor Fire May Lead to Floods and Land Movement

After the Caldor Fire erupted in August 2021, scientists from Berkeley Lab launched a research project to study how the fire would affect the mountain ecosystem, including factors such as streamflow, groundwater levels, water quality, and possible soil erosion leading to floods and debris flow. They mobilized to burn areas to collect samples of water, sediment, and ash.

Latest IPCC Report Points to Urgent Need to Cut Emissions

Our planet’s oceans, forests, and soils perform a valuable service, absorbing half of our carbon dioxide emissions. But the more that our planet warms, the more that these so-called “carbon sinks” weaken in their ability to perform this service. If we continue on our current trajectory of high emissions of greenhouse gases, by the next century not only will oceans and forests absorb less carbon dioxide, they could even reverse their role and become carbon sources.

Deep Forest Soils Lose Carbon as Temperatures Climb

A new study led by Berkeley Lab has provided the first physical evidence that warmer temperatures lead to a significant drop in the stored carbon stock in deep forest soils. An experiment in California’s Sierra Nevada forest found that the carbon content in subsoils dropped 33% over five years. The research team, led by Margaret