Environmental Science Division (EVS) a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Research Highlights Index

Ecological Resources and Systems

We assess the effects of energy development and other environmental perturbations on ecological systems, from organisms to ecosystems.

Our world exists in a delicate balance with technology. The need to develop traditional and alternative energy supplies, together with our mandate to protect the environment, requires effective evaluation and mitigation of ecological risks.

The EVS Division addresses these needs by bringing together teams with expertise in multiple disciplines to conduct research at scales ranging from individual organisms to ecosystems. The focus is on improved predictions and measurements of the ecological effects of advanced energy and technology, better strategies for avoiding harmful effects, and new ways to preserve green resources for all.

Risk and Restoration

By combining a risk assessment framework and methods with geospatial analysis tools, EVS evaluates the potential ecological impacts of human activities such as energy development and environmental cleanups. We also use these tools to develop novel mitigation and restoration approaches for minimizing potentially adverse ecological impacts.

For example, we have analyzed the potential migration of invasive aquatic species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River tributaries and have evaluated ecological risks of energy development, including wind and marine hydrokinetic generation. These assessments involved probabilistic evaluation, development of risk tools and geospatial tools, and identification of stressor-receptor linkages driving risks.

Assessment and Measurement

EVS develops and uses state-of-the art methods for assessing the ecological impacts of energy development and production. These methods combine geospatial techniques, remote sensing, environmental models, and direct field surveys and measurements.

The goal of this work is to identify cost- and time-effective techniques for assessing the ecological and hydrologic effects of construction and operation of utility-scale energy facilities. We use the techniques in ecological impact assessments and long-term monitoring of both renewable (solar, wind, and hydropower) and non-renewable (oil, natural gas, etc.) energy developments.

Ecological and Hydrologic Modeling

In a multi-scale, interdisciplinary ecology-hydrology modeling approach, EVS develops integrated theoretical, numerical, and data-driven models for simulation of ecosystems and environmental processes and their responses to energy development.

These models combine ecology and hydrology fundamentals with community assessment, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, remote sensing, geospatial and statistical analyses, database development, agent-based modeling, visualization, and computer programming.

Technology and Engineering Assessment

EVS applies the design and operating principles of engineered systems to analyze the effects of major construction activities and technology operations on natural resources and ecosystems. The result is improved assessments of the types and volumes of emissions, energy and water demands, geo-engineering and structural requirements, and hazardous materials and wastes associated with such systems.

Major engineered systems addressed in this way include electrical transmission lines, mining and mineral processing operations, oil and gas pipelines, and energy production systems (nuclear, fossil, geothermal, wind, solar, wave, tidal, and hydroelectric).