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PNNL talks climate, wind and carbon at AGU

Scientists from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will present research related to climate change, wind power, carbon sequestration and more at the 2011 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, which runs Monday, Dec. 5 through Friday, Dec. 9 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Summaries of some of PNNL's presentations are below.

Understanding Human and Environmental Systems at Regional Scales

As the Earth's climate system responds to increased atmospheric greenhouse gases, changes will occur to different regions of the world. Crops may fail in one area and blossom in another, fresh water might become rare or instead flood human settlements or reservoirs, or the demand for energy might overwhelm some power systems as cooling and heating needs change. To aid decision-makers such as politicians and resource managers better understand their options, PNNL researcher Kathy Hibbard and colleagues are developing a framework that knits together climate, economics, human and natural resources on regional scales. Various models of regional climate, crop productivity, socio-economics, energy and technology changes form the skeleton of an integrated Regional Earth System Model, or iRESM. The computational challenges of putting these models together will require novel solutions. For example, one model component divides the United States up into equal grids while others use state boundaries or utility zones. The time scales that different models use to simulate events range from seconds to years to decades. Using a 10-state region in North America as a pilot study, the research team from PNNL and the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Md., will be guided by needs of stakeholders to build a modeling framework that analyses supply and demand of variables related to water, food, energy, and buildings.

GC22C-01: Regionally Integrated Earth System Modeling, Dec. 6, 10:20 a.m., Moscone West Rm 3003 in GC22C Regional Climate Modeling 2: Integrated Earth Systems Modeling at Global and Regional Scales. Media contact: Mary Beckman,, (509) 375-3688.

Estimating global, on-shore potential for power from wind

Experts say wind power has the potential to supply a much larger portion of global energy. But how much more? PNNL scientists used higher-resolution, on-shore wind speed data to estimate how much power wind could provide regionally and globally, and at what cost. They also investigated the uncertainties that surround wind supply estimates, such as land use suitability, turbine cost and financing assumptions. For example, estimates can vary greatly based upon how land suitability is measured, such as the assumed amount of cropland that can be used for wind development. Less impactful to the estimate is the cost of connecting wind resources to the existing transmission grid. PNNL's Yuyu Zhou and his team will present a poster that explains the research and results.

GC41D-0861: Global Onshore Wind Energy Potential and Its Uncertainties. Dec. 8, 8 a.m. - 12 noon, Moscone South, Halls A-C. Media contact: Annie Haas,, (509) 375-3732.

Getting to know the in-betweens of carbon sequestration

A new kind of nuclear magnetic resonance analysis can help scientists better evaluate the potential of underground sites to safely sequester greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions. The technique, called high-pressure magic angle spinning NMR, allows researchers for the first time to understand the details of the multi-step chemical reactions that turn supercritical carbon dioxide into solid mineral compounds in situ, or under the same conditions that they would occur underground. Those details include identifying the reaction intermediates, which could help evaluate how well specific sites might sequester carbon dioxide into stable solids. PNNL's John Loring will present a poster that explains high-pressure magic angle spinning NMR and its analysis of high-pressure, high-temperature carbonation reactions involving the minerals brucite and forsterite. Instruments for the technique were developed at EMSL, DOE's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory user facility at PNNL.

GC51B-0967: Mineral Carbonation in Wet Supercritical CO2: An in situ High-Pressure Magic Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Study, Dec. 9, 8 a.m. - 12 noon, Moscone South, Halls A-C. NOTE: John Loring is taking the place of Flaviu Turcu, who was originally scheduled to present. Media contact: Franny White,, (509) 375-6904.


Contact: Franny White
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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