Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Computational Earth Science

We develop and apply a range of high-performance computational methods and software tools to Earth science projects in support of environmental health, cleaner energy, and national security.

Contact Us  

  • Deputy Group Leader
  • Gilles Bussod
  • Email
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Providing realistic, data-driven models for improved prediction

Computational Earth Science (EES-16) capabilities integrate expert knowledge, laboratory data and observational data to explain complex processes using physics-based models and make predictions of future conditions that include quantitative uncertainty analysis to inform decisions and policy.

Research directions

  • Clean energy (fossil energy and wind energy)
  • Climate-impact realization
  • Environmental management
  • Microscale, mesoscale, and global-scale atmospheric phenomenology
  • Nuclear explosion-induced atmospheric physics
  • Repository science for nuclear-waste disposal
  • Subsurface flow and transport in porous and fractured media
  • Wildfire and urban firestorm modeling and predictions

We focus on

  • Atmospheric modeling
    • Microscale, mesoscale, and global-scale atmospheric phenomena
    • Applying our award-winning HIGRAD/FIRETEC hydrodynamic software to diverse phenomena of wildland and urban fire propagation; and to aid development of better energy materials, such as stronger and more efficient wind turbines   
    • Modeling to simulate Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) signatures to characterize lightning and security threats (such as nuclear explosions)
  • Subsurface flow and transport processes — This work helps reveal how chemicals (such as nuclear waste) interact with the environment, age, and move throughout soil, rock, water.
    • Developing and applying models to predict flow and transport of multi-phase fluids in subsurface porous and fractured media
    • Improving geothermal and oil/gas extraction
Primary Expertise

Fossil Energy

  • We have R&D roles studying chemical and physical interactions to improve extraction efficiency, reduce water usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We also develop process models, infrastructure optimization models, and risk/performance assessment tools to support critical national decisions.

High Performance Computing: Subsurface Flow and Transport

  • We develop advanced computational methods to model flow and transport in porous and fractured geologic media and coupled thermal-hydrologic-chemical-mechanical processes. In addition to numerical codes, Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) and Parameter Estimation (PE) are key EES-16 capabilities.

Wildfire, Regional Climate, and Wind Energy

  • Utilizing leadership-class parallel computers and advanced numerical methods, the HIGRAD/FIRETEC suite of codes enable detailed simulation of atmospheric dynamics and coupled atmospheric-wildfire interactions.

Other Critical Capabilities

  • Geologic characterization and numerical mesh generation support subsurface flow projects.
  • Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) simulation supports critical weapons phenomenology programs
Recent Major Projects
  • Arctic hydrology and permafrost modeling, LDRD
  • Characterization and remediation of the Nevada National Security Site Underground Test Area (UGTA)
  • Characterization and remediation of the LANL-specific issues for Environmental Programs (EP)
  • Fossil energy, CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage), geothermal energy
  • Modeling wildfire behavior in collaboration with national and international partners
  • Underground repository science for nuclear waste disposal for the Used Fuel Disposition (UFD) Campaign

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