DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2019-03-28 16:45:09
    • Article ID: 710419

    Ice Sheet Modeling Probes Antarctic Vulnerabilities

    BISICLES tool uses NERSC to explore how changes in Antarctic Ice Sheet could contribute to sea level rise

    • The BISICLES ice sheet modeling tool was featured on the February 2019 cover of Geophysical Research Letters.

    • The BISICLES ice sheet model gives researchers insight into potential ice-shelf loss in each of the Antarctic Ice Sheet's 14 sectors.

    The biggest uncertainty in end-of-the-century sea level rise comes from the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS), the miles-thick, continent-sized polar ice mass that covers the South Pole. However, current earth system models struggle to account for events unfolding in the Antarctic region—the coupling between the evolving earth system and the ice sheet is complex and difficult to fully implement in models.

    To address this, a team of scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Swansea University (UK), and the University of Bristol (UK) collaborated to create an ice sheet modeling tool that uses high performance computing resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Berkeley Lab to systematically examine where the AIS is vulnerable and the resulting potential for large contributions to sea level rise.

    The modeling tool — the BISICLES ice sheet model — has enabled the first fully resolved, systematic study of millennial-scale ice sheet response to regional ice shelf collapse (Millennial-scale Vulnerability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to Regional Ice Shelf Collapse). While high‐resolution projections have been performed for localized Antarctic regions, full‐continent simulations have until now been limited to low‐resolution models. Key to the accuracy of the BISICLES tool’s ability to quantify the vulnerability of the entire present‐day AIS is adaptive mesh refinement (AMR). AMR dynamically places high resolution specifically where the ice sheet is changing most rapidly. Using AMR to locally deploy fine resolution allows researchers to focus on the small regions that control the overall evolution of the AIS, like fast-moving ice streams, retreating edges and the point at which ice sheets transition from grounded ice to floating ice shelves (called grounding lines) — features that migrate over continental scales.

    To get the right answer, we need to resolve the areas where there’s the most activity at a very high (sub-kilometer) resolution, but we can’t resolve all of Antarctica at that level of resolution because of the huge computational expense that would require,” said Dan Martin, a computational scientist and group leader of the Applied Numerical Algorithms Group in the Lab’s Computational Research Division and a co-developer of BISICLES. “With AMR, we can deploy high resolution only where we need it, so as the ice sheet evolves, you can automatically change where that resolution goes.” AMR is a technique that has been developed at Berkeley Lab over the last 25 years and used to enable efficient and accurate simulations across a wide range of applications. BISICLES is implemented in Chombo, one of the resulting software frameworks.

    Antarctic ice flows in relatively fast-moving ice streams from the interior to the ocean, where it is carried into enormous floating ice shelves that push back on their feeder ice streams, buttressing them and slowing their flow. Scientists have observed that the weakening or loss of these ice shelves can result in faster-moving ice, which causes thinning and retreat as more ice is delivered to the ocean from the land. To better understand where the AIS is vulnerable to ice-shelf loss, the researchers divided it into 14 sectors, corresponding to the large-scale Antarctic drainage basins. They then applied extreme thinning rates to each sector's floating ice shelves in turn while running the high-resolution BISICLES ice flow model 1,000 years into the future for each case. The greatest vulnerability came from attacking any of the three ice shelves connected to the part of West Antarctica, where much of the ice sits on bedrock that lies below sea level. Each of those dramatic responses contributed more than 2m to global sea levels after 1000 years. The second level of response came from four other sectors, each with a contribution between 0.5-1m. The remaining sectors produced little to no contribution.

    BISICLES has been in development since 2009, and is currently part of the DOE SCIDAC-funded ProSPect application partnership, which aims to improve sea-level projections by bringing a wide range of DOE expertise to bear. Beyond the DOE, researchers all over the world are using BISICLES in their modeling efforts.

    “What allowed us to accomplish this work, which entailed an unprecedented 35,000 years of high-resolution full-continent simulations, is the combination of AMR and access to NERSC,” says Martin. “While each of our NERSC runs is not that big in supercomputing terms, each simulation would still have taken 10 years on a desktop computer—we’ve used more than a million CPU hours on NERSC’s Edison supercomputer.”

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

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    Scientists hit pay dirt with new microbial research technique

    Scientists hit pay dirt with new microbial research technique

    Long ago, during the European Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci wrote that we humans "know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot." Five hundred years and innumerable technological and scientific advances later, his sentiment still holds true. But that could soon change. A new study in Nature Communications details how an improved method for studying microbes in the soil will help scientists understand both fine-grained details and large-scale cycles of the environment.

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    STAR Gains Access to "Wimpy" Quarks and Gluons

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    Mirrored D shape demonstrates surprisingly high pressures in a tokamak, indicating a shape change may be in order for next-generation fusion reactors.

    Scientists make first high-res movies of proteins forming crystals in a living cell

    Scientists make first high-res movies of proteins forming crystals in a living cell

    Scientists have made the first observations of proteins assembling themselves into crystals, one molecule at a time, in a living cell. The method they used to watch this happen - an extremely high-res form of molecular moviemaking ­- could shed light on other important biological processes and help develop nanoscale technologies inspired by nature.

    Blue Pigment from Engineered Fungi Could Help Turn the Textile Industry Green

    Blue Pigment from Engineered Fungi Could Help Turn the Textile Industry Green

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    Designer Frameworks for Refining Higher Octane Fuels

    Metal-organic frameworks designed with a topology-guided approach show higher efficiency than commercial benchmarks.

    Advanced NMR at Ames Lab Captures New Details in Nanoparticle Structures

    Advanced NMR at Ames Lab Captures New Details in Nanoparticle Structures

    Advanced nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques at the U.S. Department of Energy'sAmes Laboratory have revealed surprising details about the structure of a key group ofmaterials in nanotechology, mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs), and the placement of their active chemical sites.

    Plants' Oil-Production Accelerator Also Activates the Brakes

    Plants' Oil-Production Accelerator Also Activates the Brakes

    UPTON, NY--Scientists studying plant biochemistry at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory recently made a surprising discovery: They found that a protein that turns on oil synthesis also activates a protein that puts the brakes on the same process. In a paper just published in the journal Plant Physiology, they describe how this seemingly paradoxical system keeps oil precursors perfectly balanced to meet plants' needs.

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    Mineral Discovery Made Easier: X-Ray Technique Shines a New Light on Tiny, Rare Crystals

    Mineral Discovery Made Easier: X-Ray Technique Shines a New Light on Tiny, Rare Crystals

    Like a tiny needle in a sprawling hayfield, a single crystal grain measuring just tens of millionths of a meter - found in a borehole sample drilled in Central Siberia - had an unexpected chemical makeup. And a specialized X-ray technique in use at Berkeley Lab confirmed the sample's uniqueness and paved the way for its formal recognition as a newly discovered mineral: ognitite.


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    John Crane acquires division of Advanced Diamond Technologies, a company built on Argonne technology

    John Crane acquires division of Advanced Diamond Technologies, a company built on Argonne technology

    John Crane, a global provider of engineered products and services headquartered in Chicago, recently completed the purchase of Advanced Diamond Technologies (ADT), Industrial Division. ADT was founded in 2003 through the licensing of technology from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory.

    Energy Department to Invest $32 Million in Computer Design of Materials

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will invest $32 million over the next four years to accelerate the design of new materials through use of supercomputers.

    Demarteau to head ORNL Physics Division

    Demarteau to head ORNL Physics Division

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has named Marcel Demarteau as Physics Division Director, effective June 17.

    PPPL and Oak Ridge manage new DOE program designed to speed development of fusion energy with private-public partnerships

    PPPL and Oak Ridge manage new DOE program designed to speed development of fusion energy with private-public partnerships

    Feature describes PPPL role in innovative DOE program to promote public-private partnerships to speed development of fusion energy.

    ORNL welcomes seven new research fellows to Innovation Crossroads

    ORNL welcomes seven new research fellows to Innovation Crossroads

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory welcomed seven technology innovators to join the third cohort of Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast's only entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

    New DOE program connects fusion companies with national labs, taps ORNL to lead

    New DOE program connects fusion companies with national labs, taps ORNL to lead

    The Department of Energy has established the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy program, or INFUSE, to encourage private-public research partnerships for overcoming challenges in fusion energy development.

    Department of Energy Announces $75 Million for High Energy Physics Research

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $75 million in funding for 66 university research awards on a range of topics in high energy physics to advance knowledge of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.

    Ames Laboratory names James Morris Chief Research Officer

    Ames Laboratory names James Morris Chief Research Officer

    Dr. James Morris has been named Chief Research Officer at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory. His appointment follows an extensive search and will be effective June 17, 2019.

    Four scientists at PPPL awarded national and international honors

    Four scientists at PPPL awarded national and international honors

    Feature profiles four PPPL scientists who have received high honors.

    Brookhaven's Mircea Cotlet Named a Battelle "Inventor of the Year"

    Brookhaven's Mircea Cotlet Named a Battelle "Inventor of the Year"

    The global science and technology organization Battelle recognized materials scientist Mircea Cotlet of Brookhaven Lab's Center for Functional Nanomaterials for his research in applying self-assembly methods to control the interfaces between nanomaterials and other light-interacting components.


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    STAR Gains Access to "Wimpy" Quarks and Gluons

    STAR Gains Access to "Wimpy" Quarks and Gluons

    Low-momentum (wimpy) quarks and gluons contribute to proton spin, offering insights into protons' behavior in all visible matter.

    Flipping the Script with Reverse D-Shaped Plasmas

    Flipping the Script with Reverse D-Shaped Plasmas

    Mirrored D shape demonstrates surprisingly high pressures in a tokamak, indicating a shape change may be in order for next-generation fusion reactors.

    Designer Frameworks for Refining Higher Octane Fuels

    Designer Frameworks for Refining Higher Octane Fuels

    Metal-organic frameworks designed with a topology-guided approach show higher efficiency than commercial benchmarks.

    A Trojan Horse for Fusion Disruptions

    A Trojan Horse for Fusion Disruptions

    Thin-walled diamond shells carry payloads of boron dust; the dust mitigates destructive plasma disruptions in fusion confinement systems.

    Found: New Bismuth Compounds in Well-Known Systems of Two Elements

    Found: New Bismuth Compounds in Well-Known Systems of Two Elements

    Scientists discover an unexpected source of new materials, with potential for energy applications.

    Flowing for Function

    Flowing for Function

    A flowing magnetically responsive liquid seamlessly regulates the shape and properties of solids, letting them perform an array of jobs.

    Superconducting Films for Particle Acceleration

    Superconducting Films for Particle Acceleration

    Researchers demonstrated record accelerating cavity performance using a technique that could lead to significant cost savings.

    Parceling Particle Beams

    Parceling Particle Beams

    Beam chopper cuts accelerator-generated ion beams under highly demanding conditions.

    An Interaction of Slipping Beams

    An Interaction of Slipping Beams

    Successful models of the fraught dynamics of two particle beams in close contact lead to smoother sailing in an area of particle acceleration.

    At DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, science drives next-gen creations

    At DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, science drives next-gen creations

    American ingenuity is providing radical productivity improvements from advanced materials and robotic systems developed at the Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


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