The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science supports fundamental research to address key uncertainties in regional to global-scale Earth system change arising from the interactions and interdependencies of the atmospheric, terrestrial, cryospheric, oceanic, and human-energy components of the Earth system. DOE’s research strives to understand and anticipate how environmental and compounding stressors can influence the pattern and magnitude of weather and other extremes, and how these in turn influence the robustness and resilience of U.S. energy infrastructures. Supporting its major role in Earth system prediction, DOE supports long-term field experiments to advance process and systems level understanding; scale-aware parameterizations that can be incorporated into multiscale models; and advanced software tailored to models that can be ported to DOE’s fastest supercomputers. DOE also invests in novel machine learning and uncertainty quantification methodologies that allow model products to be more useful to DOE stakeholders. To assist the scientific community in carrying out research, DOE commits significant resources to archiving and management of extensive observed and model-generated datasets for easy retrieval and processing.
There are three areas of DOE research that contribute to the Department’s efforts to advance the science of Earth system change: (a) Atmospheric System Research (science of aerosols, clouds, precipitation, and radiative transfer); (b) Terrestrial Ecosystem Science (role of terrestrial ecosystems and coupled biogeochemical cycles); and (c) advanced modeling that combines development, simulation and analysis. DOE maintains its own suite of advanced modeling platforms, including the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM), which currently uses DOE’s advanced high performance pre-exascale computers; DOE also collaborates with NSF to support the widely used Community Earth System Model. Using the DOE-supported Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) and the DOE- and NASA-supported Earth System Grid Federation, DOE analyzes and distributes large Earth System Model output, with data analytics capabilities available to researchers. The Department also supports the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Research Facility, a scientific user facility based on three permanent observatories and three mobile observatories that in turn provides the research community with unmatched measurements permitting the most detailed high-resolution, three-dimensional documentation of evolving cloud, aerosol, precipitation, and radiative transfer characteristics in climate-sensitive sites around the world.
DOE also conducts related applied research involving energy technologies, energy analysis, and prototype infrastructures. The research and analyses undertaken by these offices often requires the development and application of companion models to those used in the Office of Science, e.g., models of energy systems and infrastructures; economics; technology impact; and risk assessment. The applied offices also maintain and update datasets to explore such topics as electric grid stability, water availability for energy production, and siting of energy infrastructure.