Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Atmosphere, Climate, and Ecosystem Science

We engage in experimental and observational research to improve theory and models of climate change impacts, specializing in carbon and water cycles, vegetation dynamics, aerosol-cloud interactions, landscape evolution and energy emissions attribution.

Contact Us  

  • Team Leader
  • Sanna Sevanto
  • (505) 664-0232
  • Email
  • Administrator
  • Ivy Martinez
  • (505) 665-1419
  • Email
Profile pages header
 ACES team members sample snow pits to understand the climate-ecosystem-permafrost feedbacks as part of the Energy Department’s NGEE Arctic project.

ACES team members sample snow pits to understand climate-ecosystem-permafrost feedbacks as part of the Energy Department’s NGEE Arctic project.

The Atmosphere, Climate, and Ecosystem Science (ACES) Team 

We develop and apply experimental techniques and numerical models to a range of atmospheric and ecosystem phenomena affecting climate and environmental changes.

Capabilities include:

  • Wildfire-atmosphere interactions: Studying and modeling the impact of fire emissions and aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions on climate.
  • Integrating terrestrial and atmospheric measurements, mechanistic understanding and numerical simulation to improve prediction of regional and global climate change impacts. 
  • Using field observations and modeling to quantify the response of ecosystems to climate variability, including increasing frequency and magnitude of droughts, and climate feedbacks through the release of stored carbon.
  • Development and testing of model components and coupled models to understand hydro-thermo-mechanical processes and their interaction with biogeochemistry, vegetation dynamics and energy fluxes.
Primary Expertise
  • Coupled wildfire-atmosphere interactions.
  • Improving sensing and attribution of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions across multiple scales.
  • Providing accurate knowledge of emissions at multiple spatial and temporal scales for air quality and energy policy.
  • Validating satellite GHG observations.
  • Regional climate impacts and feedbacks.
  • Reducing uncertainty in climate prediction.
  • Integrating and analyzing in-situ and remotely-sensed data to accurately represent landscape characterization for model initiation and evaluation.
  • Predicting vegetation disturbance affected by drought and temperature fluctuations.
Recent Major Projects

Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment: advancing confidence and predictive abilities of Earth systems models by investigating ecosystem-climate feedbacks. Current projects:

  • NGEE Arctic, which seeks to understand the climate-sensitive processes of rapidly evolving landscapes at high-latitudes and carbon stored in permafrost in Alaska. NGEE Co-PI and Los Alamos Lead: Cathy Wilson.
  • NGEE Tropics, which aims to fill the critical gaps in knowledge of tropical forest-climate system interactions. Los Alamos Lead: Chonggang Xu. 

Mobile Multi-scale Measurements: monitoring and analyzing data from comprehensive field facilities (currently located in Four Corners, New Mexico, and Poker Flats, Alaska), to enhance in-situ knowledge of emissions at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The projects seeks to verify and constrain the carbon sources and sinks at regional scales, and provide indispensable information needed to advance energy policy and climate change research.
Project Lead: Manvendra Dubey.

Terrestrial Ecosystems: determining factors affecting plant performance, stress responses and vegetation changes under climatic stress in order to better predict future vegetation cover and its consequences on carbon and energy budgets. Multiple projects range from ecosystem scale manipulation experiments involving piñon pine-juniper woodland to studies on plant-microbiome interaction and improving the representation of vegetation dynamics within the Department of Energy’s dynamic global vegetation model, the functionally assembled terrestrial simulator (FATES), to refine regional and global climate models.                 
Project Lead: Sanna Sevanto.

Aerosol and Trace Gas Measurements: performing airborne and ground-based field campaigns to measure aerosols and greenhouse gases, with the goal of elucidating the atmospheric and biogeochemical couplings between anthropogenic and ecosystem processes. State-of-the-art instruments are deployed, and results are used to advance climate model predictions and improve large-scale parameterizations of how these processes affect radiation, clouds and precipitation.
Project Lead: Manvendra Dubey.

Landscape Response: combining data and predictions derived from field observations, remotely-sensed data and numerical models to understand the geohydrological interactions that govern landscape response in the Arctic. Projects utilize satellite imagery, LiDAR, historical documentation and meteorological observations to study geomorphology, terrestrial carbon fluxes, riverbank erosion, wildfire and ground temperature in response to landscape disturbance and erosion by retrogressive thaw slumps.
Project Lead: Joel Rowland.

Our Researchers

Sanna Sevanto

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Sanna Sevanto - Team Leader

  • Experimental vegetation science
  • Theoretical and experimental plant biophysics
  • Plant physiology and responses to stress
  • Plant-microbiome interactions
  • Vegetation-climate interactions
  • Materials transport through the biosphere

Allison Aiken

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Allison Aiken - Research Scientist

  • Measuring aerosol and trace gas signatures to reduce uncertainties in Earth system models
  • Single particle and in situ aerosol measurements, complex data analysis, aerosol mass spectrometry, single particle laser-induced incandescence, and photoacoustic spectroscopy 
  • 10+ international field campaigns; manage ~40 instruments at one fixed location and for two U.S. DOE ARM mobile facilities

Manvendra Dubey

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Manvendra Dubey - Research Scientist

  • Multidisciplinary research using observations, laboratory measurements, computational models and simulations to inform climate-biogeochemistry-carbon models
  • Improved predictions of climate change, air-quality for energy policy
  • Focused greenhouse gas, aerosol, and trace gas measurements from in situ remote and satellite sensors to verify emissions and inform climate policy
  • State-of-art optical measurements on absorbing aerosols from wildfires, fossil combustion

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Brent Newman - Research Scientist

  • Hydrology and biogeochemistry

Joel Rowland

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Joel Rowland - Research Scientist

  • Role of landsurface dynamics and hydrology in the transport, storage and cycling of sediment, water, and biogeochemical constituents
  • Focus on river and floodplains, permafrost landscapes, and coastal regions

Chonggang Xu

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Chonggang Xu - Research Scientist

  • Dynamic vegetation modeling
  • Insect and epidemiological modeling
  • GIS and remote sensing
  • Sensitivity analysis and uncertainty quantification
  • Statistical analysis and modeling

Cathy Wilson

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Cathy Wilson - Research Scientist

  • Observational and computational hydrologist and geomorphologist
  • Development of hydrologic and geomorphic models informed by multi-disciplinary and multi-scale observations
  • Fire impacts on floods and contaminant transport
  • Long-term performance of waste repositories
  • Climate impacts on water resources for energy production
  • Collection and integration of in-situ, surface and subsurface geophysical and remote sensing data to inform, develop and improve the representation of permafrost hydrology and geomorphology in global scale landscape models 

Turin Dickman

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Turin Dickman - Research Technologist

  • Plant physiology, specialty in climate change effects on forests
  • Developing expertise in non-structural carbohydrate analysis
  • Supporting variety of ACES field and laboratory experiments

Marvin Gard

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Marvin Gard - Research Technologist

  • Data analysis

Adam Collins

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Adam Collins - Research Technologist

  • Plant physiology
  • Physiological ecology

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Rutuja Chitra-Tarak

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Nathan Conroy - Postdoctoral Researcher

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James Lee - Postdoctoral Researcher

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Anastasia Piliouras - Postdoctoral Researcher

  • Coastal, deltaic, and fluvial geomorphology
  • High latitude coastal dynamics
  • Eco-geomorphology
  • Field work, remote sensing, numerical modeling, physical experiments

Dian Romonosky

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Dian Romonosky - Postdoctoral Researcher

  • Analytical chemistry
  • Specializing in atmospheric chemistry and aerosols
  • Mass spectrometry and spectroscopy

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Jonathan Schwenk - Postdoctoral Researcher

  • River morphology and dynamics
  • Global geospatial analysis
  • Image processing and computer vision algorithms
  • Machine learning on remotely-sensed imagery

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Lu Zhai - Postdoctoral Researcher

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Yu Zhang - Postdoctoral Researcher