Our diverse team bridges the fields of hydrology, ecology and atmospheric science with particular emphasis on atmospheric chemistry, aerosol-cloud interactions, ecohydrology, vegetation response, surface and subsurface cold-region processes, snow interactions, and water dynamics.

What We Do

  • Conducting controlled experiments, field observations, numerical simulations, and mechanistic studies of Earth system components in atmospheric sciences, hydrology, and ecosystem sciences.
  • Linking observations and models to better understand how different parts of the Earth system, such as water and carbon cycles, interact with each other.
  • Measuring and modeling fire emissions, as well as other types of aerosols, to improve our understanding of climate-relevant processes, such as aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions and radiative impacts.

Primary Expertise

  • Providing accurate information on greenhouse gas and volatile organic compound emissions at various spatial and temporal scales to support air quality and decarbonization efforts.
  • Characterizing the optical and chemical properties of aerosols from both natural and human sources to understand their impacts on the climate and to identify their sources.
  • Conducting controlled experiments to study aerosol-cloud processes, including photochemistry, condensational coating formation and cloud cycling.
  • Utilizing stable isotope data to improve Earth system models and identify the sources of moisture and understand cloud processes.
  • Using remote sensing, modeling tools, machine learning and statistical analyses, we characterize how climate change, variability and extreme events are affecting water and ecosystems. 
  • Investigating snow processes in the context of climate, landscape and ecosystem dynamics, and exploring the feedbacks between the snowpack and the subsurface.
  • Studying the availability of regional water resources, including the human and social impacts of changes in water supply and demand, as well as droughts and floods. 

Featured Products

Using model, field data and remote sensing data to examine the impact of vegetation and biocrust dynamics on dryland hydrologic processes and how dryland hydrology, in turn, controls the evolution of dryland vegetation and biocrust. 

Contact: Yu Zhang


Characterizing the biogenic aerosols in natural settings and contrasting those to the biogenic aerosol produced during wildfires. This work includes both laboratory and field-based measurements with a real-time bioaerosol fluorescence instrument (WIBS-NEO). Bioaerosols are a complex mixture of materials including living and dead microorganisms and with these measurements to improve our understanding of their properties and abundance we will be able to assess their impacts on humans, plants, soil health and climate.  

Contact(s): Allison Aiken and Katherine Benedict


Actively engaged in climate change vulnerability assessments for the Lab site, including development of resilience plans. Specific emphasis on climate change projections for hazards that affect the LANL site including extreme heat, changes to precipitation, decreased water availability, extreme drought, flooding and erosion, wildfire and severe windstorm events.

Contact: Katrina Bennett

Performing controlled-burn experiments in a laboratory setting of building materials (flooring, fabrics, lumber, plastics).  Using our state-of-the-art instrumentation (e.g., SP-AMS, PTR-TOF) to measure the emissions of gases and the optical, physical and chemical properties of combustion aerosols for improved simulation of fires at the wildland-urban interface and their impacts to the local community and climate. 

IDS is the science of understanding, quantifying, and developing predictive science-based solutions for climate-driven disturbances (e.g. vegetation mortality due to drought, wildfire or insect outbreak) and the impacts to society. 

Characterization of soot processes and lifetimes using laboratory experiments and aircraft field campaign datasets for improved representation in global models. Laboratory validations of dense smoke plume processes to better constrain weapon effects and nuclear winter scenarios. With collaborators across LANL we are building, testing, and implementing parameterizations based on real-world observations. 

Contact(s): Manvendra Dubey and Kyle Gorkowski

Developing new aerosol measurements that can be performed in the field for detonation and deflagration processes. We are coupling soot particle aerosol mass spectrometry, single particle statistics and machine learning techniques to probe the heterogeneity of the debris. We are forming new partnerships across the Laboratory to produce, collect and analyze samples in new ways for rapid response using small sample sizes. Contact(s): Allison Aiken and James Lee

Modeling of the global crop yield response to drought under future climate change within a land surface model. Use of remote sensing and census-based datasets for validation and benchmarking of historical simulations. Improving the representation of irrigated crop yields within crop models through imposing more realistic constraints on water availability.

Contact: Kurt Solander

Modeling the terrestrial surface and subsurface hydrologic processes and their interaction with coastal ocean processes to better understand the resilience and adaptation of coastal systems to intensified climate change. 

Benchmarking pan-Arctic streamflow from a suite of global Earth System Models (ESMs) using metrics to cover all aspects of the hydrograph at multiple temporal scales. Data-driven modeling of Arctic river ice and temperature to improve river trafficability and food security of local populations. Use process-based model (Amanzi-ATS) to understand the impact of coastal flooding on Arctic permafrost thaw. 

Contact: Joel Rowland

Better understand the representation of the riverine hydro-thermal processes to improve the simulations of land-ocean interactions by comparing Earth System model output with Arctic observed land water storage, stream flows, snow, and subsurface soil moisture at the pan-Arctic scale. 

Contact: Joel Rowland

Monitoring and analyzing data (CH4, C2H6, etc) from comprehensive field facilities to enhance in-situ knowledge of emissions at multiple spatial and temporal scales. These projects seek to verify and constrain the carbon sources and sinks at regional scales, and provide indispensable information needed to advance energy policy and climate change research.

Contact: Manvendra Dubey

Advancing confidence and predictive abilities of Earth systems models by investigating ecosystem-climate feedbacks. Current projects:

  • Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE) Arctic: Better climate modeling via advanced understanding of coupled processes in Arctic terrestrial ecosystem.  Contact: Katrina Bennett
  • Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE) Tropics: Measurements and modeling of sub-surface water and nutrient fluxes within the root zone. Outcomes are used to improve modeling of vegetation dynamics in response to water and nutrient uptake within a global Earth System Model. Contact: Chonggang Xu

Examine the impact of wetland restoration on the efficiency of carbon sequestration of coastal ecosystem using process-based models that simulates the hydrological and biogeochemical processes of coastal restored wetlands under sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, and global warming. 

Contact: Yu Zhang