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Ecosystem Science



Project the fate and function of ecosystems as they respond to a variety of stresses, ranging from contamination to climate change to energy extraction and conversion.



ORNL researcher Ken Lowe with drill rig

Ecosystem scientists at ORNL design large-scale, field experiments to predict the vulnerability of terrestrial ecological systems to projected changes in climate and atmospheric composition. Specifically, we examine: 1) the effects of climate change on carbon, water and nutrient cycles; 2) feedback from these cycle alterations; and 3) how changes in ecosystem structure and land use alter those biogeochemical feedbacks. Experimental data are also used to reduce or eliminate critical uncertainties in ecological and climate change models.

Our data modelers also develop new tools for the analysis and synthesis of large-scale data sets in order to understand Earth science processes.  These methods can be applied to modeling various thermal, hydrological and biogeochemical processes and the subsequent interactions with the terrestrial biosphere, ranging from fine- to global-scale climate systems.

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