The L.A. Times covers the Carnegie Airborne Observatory's assessment of California's drought: "Asner has a practiced eye for forest health, and with instruments aboard his plane that...
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Washington, D.C.—With mounting vigor for combating global climate change, increasing the use of renewable energy resources such as solar, without compromising natural habitats, is a challenge...
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“The system produces maps that tell us more about an ecosystem in a single airborne overpass than what might be achieved in a lifetime of work on the ground,” Greg Asner tells National...
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A unique airborne observatory measures the drought stress in California at 8 million trees per hour.....
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"Two physical realities virtually ensure that Californians will still face drought, regardless of how this El Niño unfolds," write Department of Global Ecology Director Chris Field...
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"It’s true that right now our fossil-fuel resources remain vast; but it’s also true that, if we keep burning through them at current rates, they’ll be gone in less time than it...
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“The legacy of what we’re doing over the next decades and the next centuries is really going to have a dramatic influence on this planet for many tens of thousands of years,” Ken...
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“This is humanity as a geologic force,” Ken Caldeira tells the New York Times. “We’re not a subtle influence on the climate system – we are really hitting it with a...
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Carnegie researchers are developing new scientific approaches that integrate phylogenetic, chemical and spectral remote sensing perspectives - called Spectranomics - to map canopy function and biological diversity throughout tropical forests of the world. Mapping the composition and chemistry of...
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The Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), developed by GregAsner, is a fixed-wing aircraft that sweeps laser light across the vegetation canopy to image it in brilliant 3-D. The data can determine the location and size of each tree at a resolution of 3.5 feet (1.1 meter), a level of detail that is...
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Monitoring tropical deforestation and forest degradation with satellites can be an everyday activity for non-experts who support environmental conservation, forest management, and resource policy development. Through extensive observation of user needs, the Greg Asner team developed CLASlite ( the...
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Ken Caldeira has been a Carnegie investigator since 2005 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-...
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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
Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Institution
Greg Asner is a staff scientist in Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology and also serves as a Professor in the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford University. He is an ecologist recognized for his exploratory and applied research on ecosystems, land use, and climate change at...
Meet this Scientist
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There is considerable opportunity for generating wind power in the open ocean, particularly the North Atlantic, according to new research from Carnegie’s Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira. In the...
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Washington, DC—A team of scientists, led by researchers at Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology, has determined that the recent widespread die-off of Colorado trembling aspen trees is a direct...
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Washington, D.C. — Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and gas have been increasing over the past decades, causing the Earth to get hotter and hotter. There are concerns that a...
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Explore Carnegie Science

Coal mine, public domain
January 29, 2019

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 Miller and Anna Michalak. Their findings are published in Nature Communications.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, which is used to generate more than 70 percent of its electricity. It also emits more methane than any other nation, and the coal sector accounts for about 33 percent of this total. This happens when underground pools of methane gas are released during the mining process.

In the atmosphere, methane acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat

SOCCR2 cover art
November 27, 2018

Washington, DC—Carnegie’s Anna Michalak was a major contributor to the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report released last Friday, which provides a current state-of-the-science assessment of the carbon cycle in North America—including the United States, Canada, and Mexico—and  its connection to climate and society.

Over the past decade, fossil fuel emissions continued to be by far the largest North American carbon source. Urban areas in North America are the primary source of anthropogenic carbon emissions.

But land ecosystems and the ocean play a major role in removing and sequestering carbon

October 29, 2018

Washington, DC—Today, Paul G. Allen Philanthropies and a consortium of partners, including Carnegie, unveiled the Allen Coral Atlas, a pioneering effort that uses high-resolution satellite imagery and advanced analytics to map and monitor the world’s coral reefs in unprecedented detail. At launch, the Allen Coral Atlas offers the highest-resolution, up-to-date global image of the world’s coral reefs ever captured, and the first detailed maps showing the composition and structure of five important reefs located throughout the world.

“Paul challenged us with a bold and audacious goal—save coral reefs around the world,” said Bill Hilf, CEO of

Smokestacks photo from the public domain
August 16, 2018

Washington, DC— When it comes to aerosol pollution, as the old real estate adage says, location is everything.

Aerosols are tiny particles that are spewed into the atmosphere by human activities, including burning coal and wood. They have negative effects on air quality—damaging human health and agricultural productivity.

While greenhouse gases cause warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere, some aerosols can have a cooling effect on the climate—similar to how emissions from a major volcanic eruption can cause global temperatures to drop.  This occurs because the aerosol particles cause more of the Sun’s light to be reflected away from the

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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.

The Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), developed by GregAsner, is a fixed-wing aircraft that sweeps laser light across the vegetation canopy to image it in brilliant 3-D. The data can determine the location and size of each tree at a resolution of 3.5 feet (1.1 meter), a level of detail that is unprecedented. By combining field surveys with this airborne mapping and high-resolution satellite monitoring the team has been able to detail myriad ecological features of forests around the world.

As one example, Carnegie scientists with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment mapped the true extent of gold mining in the biologically diverse region of Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon.

Chris Field is a co-principal investigator of the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in northern California. The site, designed to exploit grasslands as models for understanding how ecosystems may respond to climate change, hosts a number of studies of the potential effects from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, elevated temperature, increased precipitation, and increased nitrogen deposition. The site houses experimental plots that replicate all possible combinations of the four treatments and additional sampling sites that control for the effects of project infrastructure. Studies focus on several integrated ecosystem responses to the

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

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 has been a Carnegie investigator since 2005 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

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Institution

Greg Asner is a staff scientist in Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology and also serves as a Professor in the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford University. He is an ecologist recognized for his exploratory and applied research on ecosystems, land use, and climate change at regional to global scales.

Asner graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1991. He earned master's and doctorate degrees in geography and biology, respectively, from the University of Colorado in 1997. He served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University until

Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. 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 and apply spatiotemporal statistical data methods for optimizing the