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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    A New Collider Concept Would Take Quantum Theories to an Extreme

    A New Collider Concept Would Take Quantum Theories to an Extreme

    A new idea for smashing beams of elementary particles into one another could reveal how light and matter interact under extreme conditions that may exist on the surfaces of exotic astrophysical objects, in powerful cosmic light bursts and star explosions, in next-generation particle colliders and in hot, dense fusion plasma.

    Unexpected observation of ice at low temperature, high pressure questions ice, water theory

    Unexpected observation of ice at low temperature, high pressure questions ice, water theory

    Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory studying super-cold states of water discovered a pathway to the unexpected formation of dense, crystalline phases of ice thought to exist beyond Earth's limits. Their findings, reported in Nature, challenge accepted theories and could lead to better understanding of ice found on other planets, moons and elsewhere in space.

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    New Argonne Battery Design Offers ​"Solid" Advantage

    In a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, researchers have identified a new boundary layer that emerges between a lithium metal anode and a lithium transition metal oxide (LLZO) electrolyte, potentially leading to improved battery stability.

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    Laser Focus Shines Light on How Nanoparticles Form

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    In a first, researchers identify reddish coloring in an ancient fossil - a 3-million-year-old mouse

    In a first, researchers identify reddish coloring in an ancient fossil - a 3-million-year-old mouse

    Researchers have for the first time detected chemical traces of red pigment in an ancient fossil - an exceptionally well-preserved mouse, not unlike today's field mice, that roamed the fields of what is now the German village of Willershausen around 3 million years ago.

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    Machine learning speeds modeling of experiments aimed at capturing fusion energy on Earth to rapidly predict behavior of plasma that fuels fusion reactions

    Machine learning speeds modeling of experiments aimed at capturing fusion energy on Earth to rapidly predict behavior of plasma that fuels fusion reactions

    Release describes application of machine learning form of artificial intelligence to predict the behavior of fusion plasma.

    Record-shattering underwater sound

    Record-shattering underwater sound

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    CosmoGAN: Training a Neural Network to Study Dark Matter

    CosmoGAN: Training a Neural Network to Study Dark Matter

    A Berkeley Lab-led research group is using a deep learning method known as generative adversarial networks to enhance the use of gravitational lensing in the study of dark matter.


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    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.

    Berkeley Lab Project to Pinpoint Methane 'Super Emitters'

    Berkeley Lab Project to Pinpoint Methane 'Super Emitters'

    Methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps about 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide, is commonly released from rice fields, dairies, landfills, and oil and gas facilities - all of which are plentiful in California. Now Berkeley Lab has been awarded $6 million by the state to find "super emitters" of methane in an effort to quantify and potentially mitigate methane emissions.

    Cryogenics equipment maker licenses ORNL auto-fill method for more efficient liquid helium use

    Cryogenics equipment maker licenses ORNL auto-fill method for more efficient liquid helium use

    Advanced Research Systems has licensed an ORNL technology designed to automatically refill liquid helium used in laboratory equipment for low-temperature scientific experiments, which will reduce downtime, recover more helium and increase overall efficiency.

    New Argonne coating could have big implications for lithium batteries

    New Argonne coating could have big implications for lithium batteries

    In a new discovery, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new cathode coating by using an oxidative chemical vapor deposition technique. The new coating can keep the battery's cathode electrically and ionically conductive and ensures that the battery stays safe after many cycles.

    Argonne's Chain Reaction Innovations appoints first advisory council

    Argonne's Chain Reaction Innovations appoints first advisory council

    World-class energy leaders will offer their expertise to Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, as part of a new Advisory Council announced today. CRI has named 14 Advisory Council members, including investors, industry experts and business executives, to help guide its growth and strategy.

    ORNL, Lincoln Electric to Advance Large-Scale Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology

    ORNL, Lincoln Electric to Advance Large-Scale Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology

    The new agreement builds upon ORNL and Lincoln Electric's previous developments by extending additive technology to new materials, leveraging data analytics and enabling rapid manufacture of metal components in excess of 100 pounds per hour.

    Students from Minnesota and Massachusetts Win DOE's 29th National Science Bowl(r)

    Students from Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minnesota, won the 2019 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl(r) (NSB) today in Washington, D.C. In the middle school competition, students from Jonas Clarke Middle School in Lexington, Massachusetts, took home first place.

    Five new innovators join Chain Reaction Innovations in third cohort

    Five new innovators join Chain Reaction Innovations in third cohort

    Five new innovators will be joining Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the elite program's third cohort. Announced on Monday, April 22, these innovators were selected following an extensive national solicitation process and two-part pitch competition, with reviews from industry experts, investors, scientists and engineers.


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    Laser Focus Shines Light on How Nanoparticles Form

    Laser Focus Shines Light on How Nanoparticles Form

    Titan supercomputer tells origin story of nanoparticle size distributions with large-scale simulations.

    Improving Isotope Supply for a Cancer-Fighting Drug

    Improving Isotope Supply for a Cancer-Fighting Drug

    Production of actinium-227 ramps up for use in a drug to fight prostate cancer that has spread to bone.

    Extracting Signs of the Elusive Neutrino

    Extracting Signs of the Elusive Neutrino

    Scientists use software to "develop" images that trace neutrinos' interactions in a bath of cold liquid argon.

    Slow Charge Generation Plays Big Role in Model Material for Solar Cells

    Slow Charge Generation Plays Big Role in Model Material for Solar Cells

    Insight about energy flow in copper-based material could aid in creating efficient molecular electronics.

    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

    First measurements of heat flux in plasmas experientially sheds light on models relying on classical thermal transport.

    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

    The Fusion Recurrent Neural Network reliably forecasts disruptive and destructive events in tokamaks.

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

    The spin direction of protons was reversed, for the first time, using a nine-magnet device, potentially helping tease out details about protons that affect medical imaging and more.

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Design principles lead to a catalyst that splits water in a low pH environment, vital for generating solar fuels.

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

    Antiquark spin contribution to proton spin depends on flavor, which could help unlock secrets about the nuclear structure of atoms that make up nearly all visible matter in our universe.

    The Weak Side of the Proton

    The Weak Side of the Proton

    A precision measurement of the proton's weak charge narrows the search for new physics.


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