Climate and Environmental Sciences Division (CESD)

Subsurface Biogeochemical Research

Program Mission

The Subsurface Biogeochemical Research (SBR) program seeks to advance a predictive understanding of the biogeochemical structure and function of subsurface environments to enable systems-level environmental prediction and decision support.

Program Description

SBR supports a wide range of research activities to advance the development of fully coupled models of subsurface environmental processes. These models incorporate metabolic modeling of microbial processes; molecular-scale understanding of geochemical stability, speciation, and biogeochemical reaction kinetics; and diagnostic signatures of the system response at varying spatial and temporal scales. State-of-science understanding codified in models provides the basis for testing hypotheses, guiding experimental design, integrating scientific knowledge on multiple environmental systems into a common framework, and translating this information to support informed decision making and policies. Critical to SBR’s mission is a better understanding of how the behavior and interactions of contaminants, carbon, and nutrients affect their mobility, reactivity, and stability in complex subsurface environments that encompass the vadose and saturated zones and key interfaces between ground and surface waters. A priority for the SBR program is to develop genome-enabled biogeochemical models of the multiscale structure and function of watersheds, which are key components of terrestrial ecosystems

The SBR program and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Science (TES) program constitute the Environmental System Science (ESS) activity within the Climate and Environmental Sciences Division (CESD). The overarching goal for ESS is to advance a robust predictive understanding of terrestrial ecosystems extending from “bedrock to tree-tops” and from global to molecular scales through an iterative cycle of model-driven experimentation and observation. SBR and TES program managers work closely together to coordinate these two separate programs to advance their shared goal of developing a holistic understanding of terrestrial ecosystems to address DOE’s energy and environmental missions.

Program Funding Opportunity Announcements

Announcements are posted on the DOE Office of Science Grants and Contracts Web Site and at grants.govExternal link. Information about preparing and submitting applications, as well as the DOE Office of Science merit review process, is available at the DOE Office of Science Grants and Contracts Web Site. For current announcements visit BER Funding Opportunities.

Why the Program's Research is Important

The subsurface environment, which encompasses the vadose and saturated zones, is a heterogeneous, geologically complex domain. Believed to contain a large percentage of Earth’s biomass in the form of microorganisms, the subsurface is a dynamic zone where important biogeochemical cycles work to sustain life. Actively linked to the atmosphere and biosphere through the hydrologic and carbon cycles, the subsurface serves as a storage location for much of Earth’s fresh water. Coupled hydrological, microbiological, and geochemical processes occurring within the subsurface environment are now well recognized as responsible for the local and regional fluxes of carbon and nutrients as well as the fate and transport of anthropogenic contaminants. These processes also play a vital role in the formation of soil, economically important fossil fuels, mineral deposits, and other natural resources. Understanding subsurface environments and their role in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems is a critical component of CESD’s goal to advance a predictive understanding of Earth systems in support of DOE’s energy and environmental missions.

More Information about the SBR and TES Programs and their Accomplishments

SBR Program WebsiteExternal link

TES Program Website

SBR Program Contacts

David Lesmes
Climate and Environmental Sciences (SC 23.1)

Paul Bayer
Climate and Environmental Sciences (SC-23.1)

Roland Hirsch
Biological Systems Science (SC-23.2)

Last modified: 10/24/2013 3:11:30 PM