The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research advances world-class biological and environmental research programs and scientific user facilities to support DOE’s energy, environment, and basic research missions. Mission priorities:

  • Develop biofuels as a major secure national energy resource
  • Understand relationships between climate change and Earth’s ecosystems, and assess options for carbon sequestration
  • Predict fate and transport of subsurface contaminants
  • Develop new tools to explore the interface of biological and physical sciences

Organizational Structure

  • Biological Systems Science Division (BSSD) - supports fundamental research and technology development to achieve a predictive, systems-level understanding of complex biological systems to advance DOE missions in energy, climate, and environment.
  • Climate and Environmental Sciences Division (CESD) - supports fundamental research to achieve a predictive, systems-level understanding of climate change, as well as subsurface contaminant fate and transport, to advance DOE missions in energy, climate, and environment.

The following programs make up the Climate and Environmental Sciences Division:

The Climate Sciences Program includes process research and modeling efforts to (1) improve understanding of factors affecting the Earth's radiant-energy balance; (2) predict accurately any global and regional climate change induced by increasing atmospheric concentrations of aerosols and greenhouse gases; (3) quantify sources and sinks of energy-related greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide; and (4) improve the scientific basis for assessing both the potential consequences of climatic changes, including the potential ecological, social, and economic implications of human-induced climatic changes caused by increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the benefits and costs of alternative response options. Research is focused on understanding the basic chemical, physical, and biological processes of the Earth's atmosphere, land, and oceans and how these processes may be affected by energy production and use, primarily the emission of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion. A major part of the research is designed to provide the data that will enable an objective assessment of the potential for, and consequences of, global warming. The program is comprehensive with an emphasis on the radiation balance from the surface of the Earth to the top of the atmosphere, including the role of clouds and on improving quantitative models necessary to predict possible climate change at the global and regional levels. The Environmental Processes subprogram is DOE's contribution to the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, a program that integrates federal research on global change and climate change.

User Facilities

The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program maintains observation sites in the Southern Great Plains, the Tropical Western Pacific, and the North Slope of Alaska, gathering data on solar (incoming) and infrared (outgoing) radiation to improve the modeling of clouds and radiation in general circulation climate models.

Molecular-level studies of the physical, chemical and biological processes that underpin DOE's energy and environmental challenges are pursued at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. EMSL supports studies in biogeochemistry, interfacial science, atmospheric chemistry, and biological dynamics.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jeff Gaffney at 501-569-8840 (e-mail or Milt Constantin at 865-576-7009 or e-mail


The Global Change Education Program is funded by the
U.S. Department of Energy

Office of Biological and Environmental Research