Climate Change

Measuring City-Level Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Los Angeles is one of the pilot cities in the Megacities Carbon Project, led by NASA JPL in partnership with the California Air Resources Board, UC Irvine, and others. A sensor network sited around the L.A. Basin continuously measures three key chemicals: carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide. The multi-year data will give managers a way to see how local emissions trends match changes in policies, regulations, and human activity — offering never-before-available insight on how major cities “exhale” greenhouse gases.

AmeriFlux Network
Berkeley Lab leads the DOE AmeriFlux project — a network of hundreds of atmospheric instrument towers distributed across the Americas that provide continuous measurements of carbon, water, and other parameters. The twenty-some California AmeriFlux sites provide a foundation to quantify changes in greenhouse gas fluxes across a range of the state’s landscapes.

Affordable Sensors
Berkeley Lab developed a black carbon monitor costing less than one-tenth of those now on the market — paving the way for communities and air quality districts to collect better data about local air pollution, as directed by AB 617 (2017).

High-Performance Computing
One of the world’s leading supercomputers, Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is the primary scientific computing facility for the DOE’s Office of Science. NERSC offers tremendous advances in computing speed, allowing researchers to run high-resolution models like the Community Atmospheric Model, which offers details about how climate change will affect specific locations and agricultural regions within California at an increasingly granular level. Using NERSC supercomputers, updated models will help researchers predict climate change impacts at the city level.

Statewide Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Both LLNL and Berkeley Lab are collaborators in the Air Resources Board’s Statewide Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Network, established via AB 1803 (2006). This network of sensor stations spread around California tracks carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and black carbon — collecting critical data to verify the statewide greenhouse gas inventory and help inform carbon policy decisions.

Satellite Technology for Air Monitoring
Managed by researchers at NASA JPL, AIRS (Atmospheric Infrared Sounder) supports climate research and improves weather forecasting. AIRS is one of six instruments aboard the Aqua Satellite, a NASA Earth Observing System of satellites. It is the most advanced water vapor sensor ever built, and also measures all other primary greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, and ozone.

Changing Oceans
For the last 25 years, the Topex-Poseidon satellite has revolutionized ocean research. Led by NASA JPL and the French space agency CNES, the mission provides highly accurate, global measurements of sea levels. The program continuously mapped global ocean currents and tides; illuminated the global reach of El Niño and other climate events; created a quarter-century-long, extraordinarily precise record of global and regional sea level rise; and enabled improved forecasts of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts.

Transparency in Engine Systems
Sandia California uses its Combustion Research Facility to investigate renewable fuels and advanced combustion strategies. Equipped with a modified diesel engine, the lab allows researchers to see into a combustion chamber, conduct experiments, and generate data critical to achieving legislated targets, such as the low-carbon fuel standard.


Research Benefits by Topic Area:

Public SafetyHuman HealthAgriculture, Water, and Natural Resources | Climate Change | Energy Efficiency and Renewables | Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship | Cybersecurity  | STEM Education | Inspiration for All

Alongside academic powerhouses such as the University of California campuses, Stanford, and Caltech, Californians can take pride in our unrivaled collection of federal laboratories and research centers. CCST helps facilitate links across the capabilities and talents of these labs and centers through its Federal Laboratory Affiliates program — convening their expertise to deliver impartial science advice in response to the Governor, the Legislature, and other state entities. Learn more about the federal labs and science centers benefiting California at

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Updated: 2018.02.13