Environmental System Science Program
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Biological and Environmental Research Program

DOE Awards $10 Million for Research in Environmental System Science

August 2022

12 Projects Will Examine How Plant-Mediated Water Redistribution, Wildfire and Floods, and Fungal Networks Impact Ecosystems and Watersheds

DOE announced $10 million in funding for 12 ESS projects to universities, academic institutions, federal research labs, and nonprofits. Grants will focus on studies to improve the understanding and representation of the impact of wildfires and floods on ecosystems and watersheds, as well the role of plant-mediated water redistribution and fungal networks in shaping ecosystem and watershed function. Grants are expected to advance critically needed observational and experimental research and model development aimed at improving the accuracy of today’s Earth and environmental system models and predictive capabilities.

Current models lack the appropriate representation of important interactions among physical, hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological aspects of the Earth system. By coupling experiments, observations, and models, interdisciplinary teams of scientists will work to unravel these complex processes to improve understanding of the structure and function of watersheds and ecosystems across spatial and temporal scales.

“Coupling of observational and experimental research with model development has been a hallmark of DOE-supported research in this area,” said Dr. Gary Geernaert, DOE Acting Associate Director of Science for Biological and Environmental Research in DOE’s Office of Science. “This approach will result in a better grasp of critical processes within climate systems that are needed to improve the ability to predict the future.”

Projects include research funded under three topical areas:

(1) Plant-Mediated Ecohydrology projects will investigate plant hydraulic redistribution and its influence on ecosystem and watershed function;

(2) Wildfire or Floods and System Processes projects will improve understanding and model representation of the impacts and responses of environmental processes following wildfires or floods; and

(3) Role of Fungi in Shaping System Function projects will investigate fungal-mediated plant-soil interactions in response to environmental factors or stresses.

The projects were selected by competitive peer review under the BER Funding Opportunity Announcement for Environmental System Science. The list of projects and more information can be found on our website and in the awards brochure.