• Observations, controlled experiments, numerical simulations and mechanistic understanding of Earth system components in atmospheric sciences, hydrology and geomorphology and ecosystem sciences.
  • Field and laboratory measurements to quantify the response of ecosystems to climate variability, including increasing frequency and magnitude of droughts, wildfires, sea level rise, hurricanes, and climate feedbacks through the release of stored carbon.
  • Greenhouse and field-scale manipulation experiments to quantify impacts of climate change on ecosystems, hydrology and the atmosphere, and evaluate climate change mitigation strategies.
  • Wildfire-atmosphere interactions: Measurements and modeling of terrestrial and atmospheric processes to improve prediction of regional and global climate change impacts, the impacts of fire emissions and aerosol-cloud-precipitation on climate, and ecosystem measurements to improve predictions of fire behavior.
  • Field observations and modeling to develop and test model components and coupled models to understand hydro-thermo-mechanical processes and their interaction with biogeochemistry, vegetation dynamics and energy fluxes.
  • Airborne and ground-based field measurements of aerosols and greenhouse gasses, with the goal of elucidating the atmospheric and biogeochemical couplings between anthropogenic and ecosystem processes to advance climate model predictions and improve large-scale parameterizations of how these processes affect radiation, clouds and precipitation. 


  • Integration of atmosphere-ecosystem processes to inform climate science.
  • Coupled wildfire-fire fuel-atmosphere interactions.
  • Improving sensing and attribution of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions across multiple scales including validating satellite GHG observations.
  • Providing accurate knowledge of emissions at multiple spatial and temporal scales for air quality and energy policy.
  • Regional climate impacts and feedbacks.
  • Reducing uncertainty in climate prediction.
  • Integrating and analyzing in-situ and remotely-sensed data to accurately represent landscape characterization for model initiation and evaluation.
  • Predicting vegetation response  to drought and temperature fluctuations.
  • Experimental verification of climate change impacts on vegetation
  • Developing technology to improve food and water security
  • Nature-based solutions for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation
  • Coupling terrestrial and coastal processes to improve the predictions of coastal hydrologic cycle, saltwater intrusion, vegetation dynamics, and coastal morphologic change. 
  • Characterizing aerosol optical and chemical properties from natural and anthropogenic sources for climate impacts and source apportionment.
  • Laboratory simulations of aerosol processes including photochemistry and formation of coatings.


Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments: advancing confidence and predictive abilities of Earth systems models by investigating ecosystem-climate feedbacks. Current projects:

  • NGEE Arctic, which seeks to understand the climate-sensitive processes of rapidly evolving landscapes at high-latitudes and carbon stored in permafrost in Alaska. NGEE Co-PI and Los Alamos Lead: Katrina Bennett (EES-16).
  • NGEE Tropics, which aims to fill the critical gaps in knowledge of tropical forest-climate system interactions. Los Alamos Lead: Chonggang Xu. 

Mobile Multi-scale Measurements: Monitoring and analyzing data (CH4, C2H6, etc) from comprehensive field facilities (currently located in Four Corners, New Mexico, and Poker Flats, Alaska), 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. Project Lead: Manvendra Dubey

Terrestrial Ecosystems: Determining factors affecting plant performance, stress responses and vegetation changes under climatic stress in order to better predict future vegetation cover and its consequences on carbon and energy budgets and develop ecosystem management methods to mitigate climate change. Multiple projects range from ecosystem scale manipulation experiments involving piñon pine-juniper woodland to studies on effectiveness and climate impacts of soil amendments and plant-microbiome interaction. Project Lead: Sanna Sevanto

Terrestrial Ecosystem Modeling: Multiple projects improving the representation of vegetation dynamics within the Department of Energy’s dynamic global vegetation model, the functionally assembled terrestrial simulator (FATES), to refine regional and global climate models, and simulate climate impacts of vegetation changes. Project Lead: Chonggang Xu

Landscape Response: Combining data and predictions derived from field observations, remotely-sensed data and numerical models to understand the geohydrological interactions that govern landscape response in the Arctic. Projects utilize satellite imagery, LiDAR, historical documentation and meteorological observations to study geomorphology, terrestrial carbon fluxes, riverbank erosion, wildfire and ground temperature in response to landscape disturbance and erosion by retrogressive thaw slumps. Project Leads: Joel Rowland and Jonathan Schwenk

Combustion Emissions Dynamics: 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) to measure the emissions of gasses and the optical, physical, and chemical properties of aerosols for improved simulation of fires at the wildland-urban interface and their impacts to the local community and climate. Project Leads: Allison Aiken and Katie Benedict

Biogenic Aerosol: 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) and via a cascade impactor for offline analysis using biological methods (flow cytometry, DNA sequencing) with collaborators in B-division. 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. Project Leads: Katie Benedict and Allison Aiken

Explosion Aerosol Plumes: 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. Project Leads: Manvendra Dubey and Kyle Gorkowski

Explosion Residual Forensics: developing new aerosol measurements that can be done 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. Project Lead: Allison Aiken and James Lee

Aerosol Optics and Thin Films: The optical properties of aerosols can be complex and dependent on chemistry and local relative humidity. The optical properties of aerosol changed based on chemical composition. Black carbon (i.e., soot) is a broadband absorber of light, whereas brown carbon varies significantly depending on the wavelength of light.  We are implementing new techniques to measure the complex refractive indices from 190 nm to 1100 nm using thin-film spectrometry. Project Lead: Kyle Gorkowski

Wildland Fire Fuels: Generating observational data to support more realistic representation of fuels in fire behavior models. Projects use LiDar, leaf hyperspectral reflectance, and plant physiology to study feedbacks between wildfire, heterogeneities in 3D fuel structure and moisture, and climate change. Project Lead: Turin Dickman