Environmental Science Division (EVS)
Argonne’s Environmental Science Division (EVS) delivers pioneering research in fundamental and applied environmental science to better understand and solve global, national, regional, and local environmental challenges. Leveraging our core competency in predictive environmental understanding and Argonne’s facilities and resources, our multidisciplinary teams of scientific experts aim to better understand how Earth systems interact in order to forecast the consequences of those interactions.
The Division’s core discipline strengths include both fundamental and applied research in human health and ecological risk, atmospheric sciences, climate science, ecological sciences, environmental chemistry, remediation, natural and cultural resources management, hydrology, remote sensing, environmental software development, and geographical information systems. Applying these core disciplines and our broad experience, we help decision makers generate more informed environmental decisions
EVS scientists also manage the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) facility. ARM is a DOE Office of Science User Facility providing atmospheric data from remote sensing observatories strategically located around the world. EVS provides instrument and software expertise through ARM mentorship and translator roles.
Hydrology, Remediation, and Risk-based Restoration
EVS improves understanding and predictions of interactions between hydrologic systems and human activities and delivers strategies and solutions that mitigate damage to and restore the natural environment.
Hydrologic systems and the natural environment are continuously affected by human activities and climate change. Understanding these dynamic interactions is critical to predicting how hydrologic systems might respond to human activities, how these activities might degrade the natural environment, and how resilient the nation’s energy system and infrastructure are to these changes. For example, EVS applies a wide range of scientific and engineering expertise to address the complex environmental challenges associated with local hazardous waste sites, regional and national hydrologic extremes, and global water resources.
Radiological, Chemical, and Environmental Risk Analysis
Radiological, chemical, and environmental risk analysis (RACER) applies innovative risk analyses to drive cleanup of and stewardship for contaminated sites, advance novel materials for the circular economy, and understand human-environment interactions to promote health and safety.
Understanding the combined hazards, exposures, and effects of human activities in our environment is crucial to promoting the health and security of the nation. RACER integrates multidisciplinary science and engineering expertise to address challenges ranging from legacy waste sites and urban exposures to new technologies and evolving pathogens. We evaluate releases, environmental fates, and toxicities of radiological, chemical, and biological stressors to analyze risks and identify safe levels for humans and biota. Our real-time risk analyses guide responses to acute threats, ranging from radiological disasters to infectious diseases/pandemics. We apply an end-of-life environmental focus at the design phase for new materials. Our priority is to better understand human-environment interactions, promote health and safety, and drive scientific innovation.
Geospatial Computing, Innovation, and Sensing
EVS advanced modeling and simulation tools, based on data from a wide array of sources, produce actionable environmental intelligence that enable decision makers to better understand and work in a managed environment.
Environmental data are complex and often indirectly captured. Collection, curation, and understanding of environmental data are essential to building predictive modeling capabilities and deepening the environmental understanding of diverse stakeholders. The EVS Geospatial Computing, Innovation, and Sensing (GCIS) department brings together a diverse group of scientists to make sense of environmental data for our stakeholders. From understanding the ecological impacts of solar installations to using radars to understand thunderstorms, GCIS tackles diverse problems through its expertise in atmospheric measurements, passive and active sensing, software engineering, computer vision and machine learning, geospatial information systems, high-performance computing and data informatics.
Ecology, Natural Resources, and Managed Systems
EVS uses innovative analytical capabilities and emerging technologies to conduct basic and applied research to better understand and manage natural resources.
Our society is inherently connected to the environment and natural resources. Advances in food and energy development need to meet sustainability goals by minimizing impacts on natural resources. EVS brings together a multi-disciplinary team of experts to address this need through studies at scales ranging from individual organisms to ecosystems (populations and habitats). The focus of these studies is to improve prediction, measurement, and mitigation of the ecological effects of human activities and to advance new strategies that preserve and protect our natural resources.
The Sociocultural Systems department collaboratively assists an array of federal agencies in meeting, and exceeding, federal compliance requirements, enhancing land stewardship, and building community relationships.
Our applied science approach leverages state-of-the-art technologies, quantitative and qualitative analyses, social science best practices, and environmental policy to address and mitigate the social and environmental impacts of federal actions at local and regional scales. Our staff work with agencies to identify, evaluate, and protect important cultural resources; assist in the identification of concerns raised by communities and Tribal Nations; and analyze and assess environmental justice, socio-economic, and environmental policy issues. While protecting sensitive data and upholding high ethical standards, we develop innovative solutions by combining critical staff analysis with robust public engagement.
Atmospheric Radiation Measurement
EVS directs and manages operations within DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and leads instrumentation operations to ensure quality observations for researchers around the world.
The ARM user facility is a DOE multi-laboratory scientific user facility and a key contributor to national and international climate research efforts. EVS manages the Southern Great Plains (SGP) atmospheric observatory. SGP was the first field measurement site established by the ARM user facility and the world’s largest and most extensive climate research facility. Scientists use data from the SGP to learn about cloud, aerosol, and atmospheric processes, which in turn leads to improvements in models of the Earth’s climate.
Climate and Earth System Science
The Climate and Earth System Science department seeks to understand and predict climatic, atmospheric, and biospheric processes.
Our researchers apply novel tools to investigate the hydro-biogeochemical and atmospheric processes that drive variability in the function of Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, and climate. EVS develops and uses numerical models to advance regional and global climate projections and leverages resources available at the laboratory to conduct meteorological observations, analyze active and passive remote sensing of atmospheric conditions, quantify land-atmosphere fluxes of energy and water, and investigate ecosystem carbon cycling and soil biogeochemistry. We develop process-scale knowledge of planetary boundary layer dynamics; atmospheric chemistry; aerosol lifecycles and radiation balance; ecosystem exchanges of energy, water, and carbon; ecosystem biogeochemical cycles; and soil responses to environmental change.