USGS photo of Mount Pinatubo erupting
Washington, DC— Major volcanic eruptions spew ash particles into the atmosphere, which reflect some of the Sun’s radiation back into space and cool the planet. But could this effect be...
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Public domain image of power plant with smokestacks
Washington, DC—If power plants, boilers, furnaces, vehicles, and other energy infrastructure is not marked for early retirement, the world will fail to meet the 1.5-degree Celsius climate-...
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An image of the algal blooms in Lake Erie taken in July 2015. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Washington, DC—Changes in temperature and precipitation have already impacted the amount of nitrogen introduced into U.S. waterways, according to new research from a team of three Carnegie...
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Anemone. California, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photographer: Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR.
Washington, DC—Tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean are consumed by sea anemones along with their food, and bleached anemones retain these microfibers longer than healthy ones, according to...
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Aerial view of red tide along Florida’s gulf coast - summer/fall 2018 by Ryan McGill, purchased form Shutterstock
Washington, DC—Strategies for limiting climate change must take into account their potential impact on water quality through nutrient overload, according to a new study from Carnegie’s...
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Subalpine forests of the Colorado Rockies are expected to be strongly affected by climate change. Photo courtesy of Lee Anderegg.
Washington, DC— On the mountain slopes of the western United States, climate can play a major role in determining which tree communities will thrive in the harshest conditions, according to new...
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Coal mine, public domain
Washington, DC—Chinese regulations on coal mining have not curbed the nation’s growing methane emissions as intended, says new research from a team led by Carnegie’s Scot...
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SOCCR2 cover art
Washington, DC—Carnegie’s Anna Michalak was a major contributor to the U.S. Global Change Research Program...
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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake...
Explore this Project
Until now, computer models have been the primary tool for estimating photosynthetic productivity on a global scale. They are based on estimating a measure for plant energy called gross primary production (GPP), which is the rate at which plants capture and store a unit of chemical energy as biomass...
Explore this Project
Coral reefs are havens for marine biodiversity and underpin the economies of many coastal communities. But they are very sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to pollution, warming waters, overdevelopment, and overfishing. Reefs use a mineral...
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Joe Berry has been a Carnegie investigator since 1972. He has developed powerful tools to measure local and regional exchanges of carbon over spaces of up to thousands of square miles. He uses information at the plant scale to extrapolate the carbon balance at regional and continental scales....
Meet this Scientist
Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. She was named Director of the Department of Global Ecology in 2020. Her research focuses on characterizing complexity and quantifying uncertainty in environmental systems...
Meet this Scientist
Ken Caldeira was a Carnegie investigator from 2005 to 2020 and is world renowned for his modeling and other work on the global carbon cycle; marine biogeochemistry and chemical oceanography, including ocean acidification and the atmosphere/ocean carbon cycle; land-cover and climate change; the long...
Meet this Scientist
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Research from Carnegie's William Anderegg (now at Princeton University), Joseph Berry, and Christopher Field is featured in this public radio piece. 
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Washington, DC— Carnegie’s Greg Asner advanced through a venture capital-style pitch group challenge to win a $250,000 grant from Battery Powered that will enable his flying laboratory team to map...
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Mongabay covers the launch of Greg Asner's third-generation Carnegie Airborne Observatory, and the possiblity that he'll tackle mapping in drought-stricken California and Malaysian...
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Explore Carnegie Science

Margaret McFall-Ngai
November 17, 2021

Washington, DC—Pioneering microbiome specialist Margaret McFall-Ngai has been named the inaugural director of Carnegie’s newly launched research division focused on life and environmental sciences, which will deploy an integrated, molecular-to-global approach to tackling the challenges of sustainability, resilience, and adaptation to a changing climate. McFall-Ngai will join the institution in January, 2022, from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she is a professor at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory and the center’s director emerita.

“Margaret’s exemplary research and groundbreaking vision are the

Anna Michalak
September 15, 2021

Washington, DC—Carnegie Department of Global Ecology Director Anna Michalak will be honored with the American Geophysical Union’s Simpson Medal. It will be presented at the organization’s annual meeting in December.

Each year, AGU—a professional society of more than 130,000 experts in the Earth and space sciences—selects two or three members “who have made transformative scientific advances or breakthroughs in the Earth and space sciences, have demonstrated strong leadership, and provided outstanding service to science and society" for this recognition.

Early in her career, Michalak pioneered new approaches for quantifying greenhouse

Artist's concept of hydrogen fuel production. Purchased from Shutterstock.
July 20, 2021

Washington, DC—Designing future low-carbon energy systems to use power generated in excess of the grid’s demands to produce hydrogen fuel could substantially lower electricity costs, according to new work published by Advances in Applied Energy by Carnegie’s Tyler Ruggles and Ken Caldeira.

Renewable energy sources like the Sun and wind have natural variation due to weather patterns—some days are bright and clear, others are overcast; some days are blustery, others are still. This means that renewable power-generating infrastructure needs to be designed with this variability in mind.

To ensure that there is enough power available to meet society

Photograph of an offshore wind farm purchased from Shutterstock.
June 28, 2021

Washington, DC—Location, location, location—when it comes to the placement of wind turbines, the old real estate adage applies, according to new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Carnegie’s Enrico Antonini and Ken Caldeira.

Turbines convert the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy as they turn. However, the very act of installing turbines affects our ability to harness the wind’s power. As a turbine engages with the wind, it affects it. One turbine’s extraction of energy from the wind influences the ability of its neighbors to do the same.

“Wind is never going to ‘run dry’

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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures. The bloom began in the western region in mid-July and covered an area of 230 square miles (600 km2). At its peak in October, the bloom had expanded to over 1930 square miles (5000 km2). Its peak intensity was over 3 times greater than any other bloom on record. The scientists predicted that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience

Coral reefs are havens for marine biodiversity and underpin the economies of many coastal communities. But they are very sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to pollution, warming waters, overdevelopment, and overfishing. Reefs use a mineral called aragonite, a naturally occurring form of calcium carbonate, CaCO3, to make their skeletons.  When carbon dioxide, CO2, from the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, it forms carbonic acid—the same stuff that makes soda fizz--making the ocean more acidic and thus more difficult for many marine organisms to grow their shells and skeletons and threatening coral reefs globally.

Until now, computer models have been the primary tool for estimating photosynthetic productivity on a global scale. They are based on estimating a measure for plant energy called gross primary production (GPP), which is the rate at which plants capture and store a unit of chemical energy as biomass over a specific time. Joe Berry was part of a team that took an entirely new approach by using satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis as shown by the artwork.

The plant produces fluorescent light when sunlight excites the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll. Satellite instruments sense this fluorescence yielding a direct

Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. She was named Director of the Department of Global Ecology in 2020. Her research focuses on characterizing complexity and quantifying uncertainty in environmental systems to improve our understanding of these systems and our ability to forecast their variability. She is looking at a variety of interactions including atmospheric greenhouse gas emission and sequestration estimation, water quality monitoring and contaminant source identification, and use of remote sensing data for Earth system characterization.

The common theme of her research is to develop

Joe Berry has been a Carnegie investigator since 1972. He has developed powerful tools to measure local and regional exchanges of carbon over spaces of up to thousands of square miles. He uses information at the plant scale to extrapolate the carbon balance at regional and continental scales.

According to ISI's Web of Science, two of Joe Berry's papers passed extremely high, rarefied citation milestones. The 1980  paper “A biochemical model of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation in leaves of C3 species,” has had over 1,500th citations. His 1982 paper “On the relationship between carbon isotope discrimination and the intercellular carbon dioxide

Ken Caldeira was a Carnegie investigator from 2005 to 2020 and is world renowned for his modeling and other work on the global carbon cycle; marine biogeochemistry and chemical oceanography, including ocean acidification and the atmosphere/ocean carbon cycle; land-cover and climate change; the long-term evolution of climate and geochemical cycles; climate intervention proposals; and energy technology.

 Caldeira was a lead author for the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 report and was coordinating lead author of the oceans chapter for the 2005 IPCC report on carbon capture and storage. He was a co-author of the 2010 US National Academy America