Margaret McFall-Ngai
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...
Explore this Story
Anna Michalak
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...
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Artist's concept of hydrogen fuel production. Purchased from Shutterstock.
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,...
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Photograph of an offshore wind farm purchased from Shutterstock.
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...
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Close up of a leaf, courtesy of Pixabay
Washington, DC—The fact that photosynthesis uses sunlight and atmospheric carbon dioxide to produce sugars has been known for more than a century. But how photosynthesis manages to maintain...
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Midwestern farm purchased from Shutterstock
Washington, DC—Models of the carbon cycle that are used to understand the effects of climate change in North America need to do a better job of accounting for the carbon dioxide removed from...
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Lizard Island National Park sign. Courtesy Ken Caldeira.
Washington, DC— Algae colonizing dead coral are upending scientists’ ability to accurately assess the health of a coral reef community, according to new work from a team of marine science...
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Washington, DC— Developing nations have an opportunity to avoid long-term dependence on fossil fuel-burning infrastructure as they move toward economic stability, even if they are slow to...
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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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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...
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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...
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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
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
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Geoengineering is a catch-all term that refers to various theoretical ideas for altering Earth’s energy balance to combat climate change. New research from an international team of atmospheric...
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Washington, D.C.—Chris Field, the founding director of Carnegie Science’s Department of Global Ecology, will be awarded the fifth annual Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science...
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Washington, DC— Protected areas, such as nature reserves and national parks, play a crucial role in sheltering wildlife, such as African elephants, from hunting and habitat destruction. But it’s...
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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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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.

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

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

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

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