The sea anemone Aiptasia, photo by Ken Caldeira
Washington, DC— Bleached anemones—those lacking symbiotic algae—do not move toward light, a behaviour exhibited by healthy, symbiotic anemones. Published in...
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Khanka image made by Norman Kuring, NASA’s Ocean Color web, and Lauren Dauphin.
Washington, DC— The intensity of summer algal blooms has increased over the past three decades, according to a first-ever global survey of dozens of large, freshwater lakes, which was...
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Energy efficient house by Mikhail Grachikov, Shutterstock.
Washington, DC— Taxing carbon emissions would drive innovation and lead to improved energy efficiency, according to a new paper published in...
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USGS photo of Mount Pinatubo erupting
Washington, DC— Major volcanic eruptions spew ash particles into the atmosphere, which reflect some of the Sun’s radiation back into space and cool the planet. But could this effect be...
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Public domain image of power plant with smokestacks
Washington, DC—If power plants, boilers, furnaces, vehicles, and other energy infrastructure is not marked for early retirement, the world will fail to meet the 1.5-degree Celsius climate-...
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An image of the algal blooms in Lake Erie taken in July 2015. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Washington, DC—Changes in temperature and precipitation have already impacted the amount of nitrogen introduced into U.S. waterways, according to new research from a team of three Carnegie...
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Anemone. California, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photographer: Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR.
Washington, DC—Tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean are consumed by sea anemones along with their food, and bleached anemones retain these microfibers longer than healthy ones, according to...
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Aerial view of red tide along Florida’s gulf coast - summer/fall 2018 by Ryan McGill, purchased form Shutterstock
Washington, DC—Strategies for limiting climate change must take into account their potential impact on water quality through nutrient overload, according to a new study from Carnegie’s...
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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake...
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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...
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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...
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Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. She was named Director of the Department of Global Ecology in 2020. Her research focuses on characterizing complexity and quantifying uncertainty in environmental systems...
Meet this Scientist
Ken Caldeira was a Carnegie investigator from 2005 to 2020 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...
Meet this Scientist
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
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Washington, D.C.—Carnegie staff scientist Greg Asner has been selected as one of 22 experts to serve the U.S. government as part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) through...
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Washington, D.C.— In 2004 a very popular study aimed to address climate change by deploying wedges of different existing energy technologies or approaches. According to the study by Robert Socolow...
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Washington, D.C.— Government calculations of total U.S. methane emissions may underestimate the true values by 50 percent, a new study finds. The results are published the week of November 25 in the...
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Explore Carnegie Science

Midwestern farm purchased from Shutterstock
May 20, 2021

Washington, DC—Models of the carbon cycle that are used to understand the effects of climate change in North America need to do a better job of accounting for the carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by Midwestern agricultural crops during the growing season, according to new work led by Carnegie’s Wu Sun and Department of Global Ecology Director Anna Michalak.  Their work, published in AGU Advances, has implications for scientists as well as policymakers. 

Plants are capable of turning the Sun’s energy into food using a physiological process called photosynthesis. They take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through pores in their leaves and,

Lizard Island National Park sign. Courtesy Ken Caldeira.
March 17, 2021

Washington, DC— Algae colonizing dead coral are upending scientists’ ability to accurately assess the health of a coral reef community, according to new work from a team of marine science experts led by Carnegie’s Manoela Romanó de Orte and Ken Caldeira. Their findings are published in Limnology and Oceanography.

Corals are marine invertebrates that build tiny exoskeletons, which accumulate to form giant coral reefs. Widely appreciated for their beauty, these reefs are havens for biodiversity and crucial for the economies of many coastal communities. But they are endangered by ocean warming, seawater acidification, extreme storms, pollution, and

December 15, 2020

Washington, DC— Developing nations have an opportunity to avoid long-term dependence on fossil fuel-burning infrastructure as they move toward economic stability, even if they are slow to cut carbon emissions, say the authors of a new paper in Environmental Research Letters.

Countries with low per capita incomes can keep their contributions to global warming to 0.3 degrees Celsius with careful foresight and planning, urge Carnegie’s Lei Duan and Ken Caldeira with Juan Moreno-Cruz of the University of Waterloo. However, fueling economic development with coal, oil, or gas risks locking societies into a fossil-fuel burning infrastructure in the long-term, the authors

September 29, 2020

Washington, DC— A 10-year effort by China to improve air quality and reduce pollution-related health risks has caused warming in areas across the northern hemisphere, according to new work published in Environmental Research Letters.

Aerosols are tiny particles that are spewed into the atmosphere by human activities, such as burning coal and wood, or by geological phenomena, like volcanos. Their negative effects on air quality can damage human health and agricultural productivity.

Similar to how the aerosols emitted in a volcanic eruption can cause global temperatures to drop, some aerosols from human activity also have a cooling effect on the climate. Unlike

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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures. The bloom began in the western region in mid-July and covered an area of 230 square miles (600 km2). At its peak in October, the bloom had expanded to over 1930 square miles (5000 km2). Its peak intensity was over 3 times greater than any other bloom on record. The scientists predicted that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience

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

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.

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 was a Carnegie investigator from 2005 to 2020 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

Anna Michalak joined Carnegie in 2011 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. She was named Director of the Department of Global Ecology in 2020. 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