News Center

Digging Deep: Harnessing the Power of Soil Microbes for More Sustainable Farming

How will the farms of the future feed a projected 9.8 billion people by 2050? Berkeley Lab’s “smart farm” project marries microbiology and machine learning in an effort to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and enhance soil carbon uptake, thus improving the long-term viability of the land while increasing crop yields.

Assessing the Impact of Hurricanes on Puerto Rico’s Forests

Building on methods they used to assess the impact of hurricanes such as Katrina, Gustav, and Rita on forests and tree mortality, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have produced a rapid mapping of the disturbance intensity across Puerto Rico’s forests with the help of Google Earth Engine.

Strategies for Replacing Natural Gas to Help Decarbonize the University of California

Universities across the United States have set ambitious goals to shrink their carbon footprints, including the University of California, which launched its Carbon Neutrality Initiative in 2013, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2025. But amid broad support for climate action within the UC system, a big question looms: how to actually hit that target. Now,

Dark Fiber: Using Sensors Beneath Our Feet to Tell Us About Earthquakes, Water, and Other Geophysical Phenomena

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have shown for the first time that dark fiber – the vast network of unused fiber-optic cables installed throughout the country and the world – can be used as sensors for detecting earthquakes, the presence of groundwater, changes in permafrost conditions, and a variety of other subsurface activity.

Research Becomes Reality in Study of Fire Impact on Sonoma Water Resources

Catastrophic fires in Northern California burned more than 110,000 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties last month – including 8 percent of the Russian River watershed. Now with the rainy season underway Berkeley Lab’s research – which seeks to understand how the hydrology and microbiology of the surface and groundwater system respond to extreme events – has become even more critical.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Help Map the Microbiome of Everything

In the Earth Microbiome Project, an extensive global team collected more than 27,000 samples from numerous, diverse environments around the globe. They analyzed the unique collections of microbes – the microbiomes – living in each sample to generate the first reference database of bacteria colonizing the planet. Thanks to newly standardized protocols, original analytical methods and open data-sharing, the project will continue to grow and improve as new data are added. The paper describing this effort, published November

Cool Roofs Have Water Saving Benefits Too

The energy and climate benefits of cool roofs have been well established: By reflecting rather than absorbing the sun’s energy, light-colored roofs keep buildings, cities, and even the entire planet cooler. Now a new study by Berkeley Lab has found that cool roofs can also save water by reducing how much is needed for urban irrigation.

The Puzzle to Plugging the Worst Natural Gas Release in History

By the time Berkeley Lab scientists Barry Freifeld and Curt Oldenburg visited the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in December 2015, the SS-25 well blowout had been leaking natural gas into the air for more than six weeks. The notoriously strong winds at Aliso Canyon carried the natural gas and its added odorant to the nearby Porter Ranch neighborhood, leading to thousands of families evacuating their homes.

Assessing Regional Earthquake Risk and Hazards in the Age of Exascale

With emerging exascale supercomputers, researchers will soon be able to accurately simulate the ground motions of regional earthquakes quickly and in unprecedented detail, as well as predict how these movements will impact energy infrastructure—from the electric grid to local power plants—and scientific research facilities.

Berkeley Lab to Lead Multimillion-Dollar Geothermal Energy Project

Berkeley Lab will lead a new $9 million project aimed at removing technical barriers to commercialization of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), a clean energy technology with the potential to power 100 million American homes.