Biological & Environmental Research (BER) at LLNL

BER Program Mission

The BER program at LLNL supports a diverse set of research programs. Our research portfolio includes:

  • Analysis of different climate models
  • Research on cloud and aerosol physics and atmospheric chemistry
  • Microbial systems biology relevant to both biofuel development terrestrial carbon sequestration
  • Biogeochemistry of the subsurface reactive transport of plutonium

LLNL BER Programs

Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI)


PCMDI works to develop improved methods and tools for the diagnosis and intercomparison of general circulation models that simulate the global climate.

Current projects focus on supporting the intercomparison of models’ results from every major international climate modeling center; developing a model parameterization testbed; identifying robust cloud feedbacks in observations and models; and devising robust statistical methods for climate-change detection/attribution.

Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF)


Working across U.S. federal agencies, international agencies, and multiple worldwide data centers—and spanning seven international network organizations—the ESGF allows users to access, analyze, and visualize climate model output and observational data using a globally federated collection of networks, computers, and software. Its architecture employs a system of geographically distributed peer nodes that are independently administered yet united by common federation protocols and application programming interfaces.

Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM)


The E3SM project is an ongoing, multi-institution effort to develop a state-of-the-science Earth system modeling, simulation, and prediction model that optimizes the use of DOE laboratory resources. The E3SM model simulates the fully coupled Earth system at high resolution, and is incorporating coupling among energy, water, land-use and related energy-relevant activities with a focus on near-term hind-casts for model validation and a near-term projection for energy sector planning. A major motivation for the E3SM project is the paradigm shift in computing architectures and their related programming models as computational capabilities move towards the exascale era. E3SM is optimizing code performance for current and next-generation DOE computer facilities.

The Cloud-Associated Parameterizations Testbed (CAPT)


The CAPT aims to diagnose and improve the representation of cloud-associated physical processes in climate models. In the CAPT, weather forecast techniques are applied to climate models, with an emphasis on the simulations of the Community Atmosphere Model. The three main elements of this effort are:

  • Comparing model simulations to detailed process observations available from DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) data
  • Diagnosing the origin of errors in model simulations of climate
  • Testing new model parameterizations to identify their strengths/weaknesses in simulating cloud-associated processes

Cloud Feedbacks


To reduce uncertainties associated with climate change, a team of LLNL and University of California, Los Angeles, researchers are using observations to determine which of the climate-model predicted responses of clouds to climate change are realistic.

Subsurface Biogeochemistry of Actinides


Subsurface Biogeochemistry of Actinides aims to reliably predict and control actinide cycling and mobility in the subsurface environment. Our main focus is identifying the dominant biogeochemical processes and underlying mechanisms that control actinide behavior in the subsurface.



A comprehensive understanding of the interactions within complex microbial communities is needed to advance the use of microbial systems for the practical production of biofuels or other valuable chemical products. LLNL’s biofuels scientific focus area seeks to understand and predict the biophysical and biochemical dynamics of multi-taxa communities to determine the functional roles of individual organisms or groups of organisms within the community.

Soil Microbiomes

rhizosphere of wild oat grass

The LLNL soil microbiome scientific focus area—Microbes Persist: Systems Biology of the Soil Microbiome—seeks to understand how microbial ecophysiology, population dynamics, and microbe–mineral–organic matter interactions regulate the persistence of microbial residues in soil under changing moisture regimes.

Secure Biosystems Design

biosystems design for microbial systems

To address the grand challenge of secure biosystems design for enhanced stability, resilience, and controlled performance of microbial systems, LLNL’s secure biosystems design SFA focuses on building layered safeguard mechanisms at sequence, cellular, and population levels. The team are engineering and testing plant benefiting Pseudomonads for containment and function in relevant soil and rhizosphere environments, delivering effective safeguard mechanisms that can be readily applied to a broad range of microorganisms.


Felice Lightstone

Lab Program Coordinator for BER at LLNL

felice [at]