Program Domain

Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions

Setting up a portable eddy-covariance system to measure carbon and water flux in the San Francisco Delta. Portable solar panels provide power.
Setting up a portable eddy-covariance system to measure carbon and water flux in the San Francisco Delta

To advance understanding of dynamic biosphere-atmosphere interactions involving greenhouse gases, water and energy, such as respiration, photosynthesis, and ecosystem carbon storage.



Terrestrial Ecosystem Science

This program’s focus is to understand and explain mechanisms and processes controlling primary production, carbon cycling, and soil biogeochemistry; the impacts of disturbance on terrestrial ecosystems; and ecosystem feedbacks to climate in vulnerable environments. In addition, it seeks to establish and maintain environmental field observatories.


Climate Modeling

This program aims to develop global process-resolving models to help quantify the roles of climate feedbacks in anthropogenic climate change. Abrupt and extreme climate changes from anthropogenic warming pose some of the greatest risks to society and the environment. Understanding of the complex interactions involved with feedbacks is critical.

lightening strike in Great Plains Oklahoma

Atmospheric System Research

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Area’s, Atmospheric System Research Program advances fundamental understanding of atmospheric radiation, clouds, and precipitation, and their interactions with Earth’s surface and climate.


The Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions (BAI) Program Domain was initiated early 2016, within the new Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division (Fall 2015). Programs and projects within this program domain use measurements, theory and models to deepen understanding of complex terrestrial ecosystem processes that have profound impacts on atmospheric composition and climate.

Research endeavors involve both large and small teams of researchers, assessing factors for ecosystem response to climate change, such as disturbance impacts on terrestrial ecosystems in vulnerable environments, or carbon storage changes in response to warming soils. Scientists work from molecular to regional to global spatial scales, and from diurnal to centennial timescales. Collaborations involve big data sets and international networks.

BAI is one of four Program Domains within the Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division.

Current research activities

  • Use atmospheric measurements and process understanding to evaluate and improve Earth system models.
  • Advance basic understanding of the role of the land surface in cloud and precipitation processes, including drought and heat extremes.
  • Measure heterogeneous soil moisture and surface fluxes for process understanding, model implementation, and uncertainty analysis.