October 1, 2008

Happy New Fiscal Year and ESD New Home Page redesigned.

It's a new fiscal year at Berkeley Lab and to kick off the year, we have launced our new ESD Home Page. Take a look here! Read more about our ESD Website Redesign project in this announcement.

April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Check out the UC Berkeley Earthweek 2008 organized by the Sustainability Team, in the office of the President of UC Berkeley's Student Union, for today's activities as well as for a full week of events.

March 14, 2008

Origin and Evolution of the Earth: Research Questions for a Changing Planet

Formerly known (by ESD and UC Berkeley staff), as the "Grand Challenges Report" or "The 10 questions", this report, "Origin and Evolution of the Earth: Research Questions for a Changing Planet" was made public this past Wednesday (March 12).

Read this FREE online!
Full Book | PDF Summary | PDF Report Brief

Chaired by Division Director, Don DePaolo, in summary here are the 10 questions:

1) Origins

  • Question 1 - How did the Earth and other planets form?
  • Question 2 - What happened during the Earth's "dark age" (the first 500 million years?
  • Question 3 - How did life begin?

2) Earth's Interior

  • Question 4 - How does earth's interior work, and how does it affect the surface?
  • Question 5 - Why does the Earth have plate tectonics and continents?
  • Question 6 - How are Earth's processes controlled by material properties?

3) A Habitable Planet

  • Question 7 - What causes climate to change - and how much can it change?
  • Question 8 - How has life shaped Earth - and how has Earth shaped life?

4) Hazards and Resources

  • Question 9 - Can earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and their consequences be predicted?
  • Question 10 - How do fluid flow and transport affect the human environment?

For more information can be found at the National Academies news release and Berkeley Lab's TABL.

February 25, 2008

Witherspoon in a Virtual Time Capsule

UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus and former Earth Sciences Division Director Paul A. Witherspoon was interviewed for The Hydrogeologist Time Capsule - a project supported by the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) and other sponsors. This is a conversation between Paul Witherspoon and Allan Freeze.

February 19, 2008

1st Cake of the Year

We'll always meet for cake.


December 13, 2007

Field Trip! Australia-- Completion of Well

ESD Staffers returned from their field trip (in early October 2007) to Otway, Australia and have these photos to share.

Truss Assembly
Here's what Barry Freifeld (Hydrogeology) had to say about their experience.

"We have successfully landed the assembly in the borehole. The most amazing thing was lifting the entire 120 ft-long bottomhole assembly and dropping it in using a 70-to crane and a 15-ton crane to perform a two-crane-lift over the borehole (see the truss assembly photo).

Truss Assembly
It was a Herculean effort to get everything down in three days but the workover crews were great.

Every few hours a new weather front would come through and dump buckets of water down on us."

{image details: Tom Daley in blue/red jacket with colleagues at Otway.}

Find out more about the project in Otway by reviewing to the GEO-SEQ Project located in the Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program website.

December 12, 2007

Our Organization

In case you haven't read through ESD's announcement about the recent modifications to our organization, please do!

ESD Org Chart

December 11, 2007

The Four "Ds" of New Leadership

ESD's new Division Director, Don DePaolo quietly stepped into the ESD office on October 1 (2007). In his first Town Hall meeting with the ESD staff on November 1, Don commented that so far it has "been fun". Drs. Steven Chu and Graham Fleming commended Ernie Majer for his great leadership as the Acting ES Division Director during the past year and "officially" handed the reigns over to Don. Read more about our new Division Director here.

And...Thanks Ernie!

{image details: You can still find Ernie's feet on the desk when he's on the phone.}

August 21, 2007

ESD's New Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program

ESD decided to review its program areas to determine if the right programs/research themes were being represented within its organization. Within the past few months, what emerged was the Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program (GCS). The GCS was formed from three projects originally in the Climate Change and Carbon Management Program (GEO SEQ, WestCarb, and ZERT). Other projects, including one sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, will also be managed under this new program. Led by Larry Myer and Curt Oldenburg, the GCS is in a position to respond to an increasing research need by DOE and the Western region of injecting carbon underground, and more. For more information contact Curt Oldenburg and look for a reorganized and updated GCS Program website soon. ESD anticipates the logistical details associated with the formation of the Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program to be finalized by October 1, 2007.

August 21, 2007

ESD's New Climate Science Department

ESD enhanced its technical expertise in the area of climate modeling and prediction by hiring Sr. Scientist, Bill Collins. As a Department Head, Bill is now set to lead a newly formed ES Department called, Climate Science which consolidates staff from ESD's four other departments (Ecology, Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Hydrogeology). ESD anticipates the formation of the Climate Science Department to officially commence by October 1, 2007.

July 23, 2007

BUD, UXO, ESD, R&D 100 What Does this All Mean?

ESD is proud to announce yet another successful R&D 100 submission for 2007. The Berkeley Unexploded Ordnance Detector, otherwise known as BUD, is a system built by Berkeley Lab staff to detect buried unexploded ordnances (explosives) in sites such as closed military bases. Congratulations to the scientific team involving the expertise and hard work of ESD scientists Alex Becker, Erika Gasperikova, Frank Morrison, and J. Torquil Smith; and the Engineering Division's Jean-Francois Beche, Larry Doolittle, Jim Greer, Robin Lafever, Alessandro Ratti, and Harold Yaver. As announced on July 5, 2007, BUD was one of three award-winning Berkeley Lab technologies for 2007. More about this story.

R&D 100 Cover BUD
{image details: Cover of LBNL's R&D 100 submission. Clockwise from the top: BUD performing in field test in Yuma, AZ; map depicting UXO-contaminated land in the U.S.; examples of types of unexploded ordnances from 20 mm to 155 mm projectile.}

May 01, 2007

New to the ES Staff, Bill Collins

New to the ES Staff, Bill Collins appears on ABC 7 Local Broadcast with Wayne Freedman and discusses what it takes to model climate. Go here for the story & videocast.

{image details: Collins featured in KGO Channel 7 News}

February 01, 2007


Earth Sciences is here for the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI). BP announced today (02/01/2007) the selection of UC Berkeley and its partners, Berkeley Lab and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to lead and unprecedented $500 million research effort to develop new sources of energy that will reduce the impact of energy consumption on the environment.

The Earth Sciences Division (ESD) is targeted to lead EBI laboratories focused on microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) and biological carbon sequestration. Read more about ESD's areas of expertise which contributes to the overall bioenergy effort.

Other press: Today At Berkeley Lab , UC Berkeley NEWS release (02/01/2007), San Francisco Chronicle (02/01/2007)

January 22, 2007

The Search for the Next Division Director

Berkeley Lab has begun the search for its next Division Director for Earth Sciences. Ernie Majer has been serving as Acting Division Director since the untimely death of Bo Bodvarsson in November 2006. Majer will also serve as the Chair of the Division Director Search Committee, which comprises representatives from the Earth Sciences Division, Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Material Sciences Division/The Molecular Foundry, Human Resources, and U.C. Berkeley College of Letters & Sciences. Berkeley Lab has posted the Division Director job description. Go to Berkeley Lab's Employment page or go directly here for details.

December 19, 2006

Want biodiversity? Look no further than the air around you

Study Finds the Air Rich with Bacteria (12/19/06, Berkeley Lab, Research News)

{image details: left, Gary Anderson; center, Eoin Brodie; right, Todd de Santis}

Other press: The Scientist, Scientific American

November 30, 2006

In Memoriam - Bo Bodvarsson

Berkeley Lab Earth Sciences Leader Dies (11/30/06, Berkeley Lab, Research News)

Other press: SF Chronicle, The Oakland Tribune

July 5, 2006

The Carbon Explorer Takes the Prize

ESD is proud to announce that the Carbon Explorer, created and developed by a scientific team headed by ESD's Jim Bishop, has won one of R&D Magazine's coveted "R&D 100" Awards, as one of the 100 most significant proven scientific advances for 2005. As announced on July 5, 2006, the Carbon Explorer was one of four award-winning Berkeley Lab technologies for 2005-the most ever won in one year by Berkeley Lab.

{image details: Carbon explorer in the Pacific Ocean.}

Without the ability to accurately observe the faster-than-daily changes in ocean life cycles, over vast spatial scales, scientists lack the ability to predict how the ocean will respond to rising CO2 levels, crippling their ability to develop accurate models of global warming or devise strategies to prevent it. The Carbon Explorer meets this need by gathering unparalleled amounts and types of data to improve modeling capability in this critical scientific area.

The Carbon Explorer is a free-drifting float, roughly the size and shape of a gas cylinder, that submerges to measure particulate carbon in the upper layers of the ocean and then returns to the surface to report its data. With its system of carbon sensors, advanced communications devices, and remote operating capacity, the Carbon Explorer enables, for the first time, the continuous tracking of the biological processes of the carbon cycle in the ocean. It can stay in the ocean year-round to observe the annual variations in levels of particulate organic carbon (POC). The Carbon Explorer measures POC at a level of accuracy, precision, and frequency previously unachieved, and it does so in real time. Moreover, Carbon Explorers have been deployed to date in some of the world's most remote and extreme ocean environments (where ships could not safely operate), consistently yielding data that had never before been generated and resulting in two publications in Science (1 & 2).

In order to track the global carbon cycle, and particularly the exchange between atmospheric and oceanic carbon mediated by the sea's abundant zooplankton, Carbon Explorers descend and rise on schedules that can be reprogrammed by satellite. Carbon Explorers were the first instruments to observe natural fertilization of a plankton bloom in the North Pacific by iron-rich, wind-blown dust from a storm in Central Asia's phenomenon predicted but never seen before. Carbon Explorers recorded the first evidence of carbon exported to the ocean depths by artificially fertilized plankton in the Southern Ocean; reporting for over a year, the Explorers operated through the Antarctic winter, long after the plankton bloom had dissipated. Carbon Explorers instrumented with new sensors operated for months in the Atlantic to record coccolithophore blooms. Carbon Explorer research payoff has been momentous and promises to become even more significant in future.

Bishop wishes to thank the members of the team who brought the Carbon Explorer into being: Russ Davis and Jeffrey Sherman at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (La Jolla, California); Casey Moore and Alex Derr of WETLabs (Portland, Oregon), and Todd Wood and David Kaszuba of ESD. Funding of Carbon Explorer development and science was through the National Oceanographic Partnership Program administered by the Office of Naval Research; U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research Program; and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Global Programs. For more information, go to this web site.

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