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Carbon Cycle Measurements of Ecosystems and the Biosphere

Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Tuesday, September 08, 2015 5:00pm ET Program Area OverviewOffice of Biological and Environmental Research  The Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program supports fundamental, peer_reviewed research on complex systems in climate change, subsurface biogeochemistry, genomics, systems biology, radiation biology, radiochemistry, and instrumentation. BER funds research at public and private research institutions and at DOE laboratories. BER also supports leading edge National Scientific User Facilities including the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI), the Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory (EMSL), the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility and instrumentation for structural biology research at the DOE Synchrotron Light and Neutron sources.  BER has interests in the following areas:   1)    Biological Systems Science integrates discovery_ and hypothesis_driven science with technology development on plant and microbial systems relevant to DOE bioenergy mission needs. Systems biology is the multidisciplinary study of complex interactions specifying the function of entire biological systems?from single cells to multicellular organisms?rather than the study of individual components. The Biological Systems Science subprogram focuses on utilizing systems biology approaches to define the functional principles that drive living systems, from microbes and microbial communities to plants and other whole organisms. Key questions that drive this research include: What information is encoded in the genome sequence? How is information exchanged between different sub_cellular constituents? What molecular interactions regulate the response of living systems and how can those interactions be understood dynamically and predictively? The approaches employed include genome sequencing, proteomics, metabolomics, structural biology, high resolution imaging and characterization, and integration of information into predictive computational models of biological systems that can be tested and validated.   The subprogram supports operation of a scientific user facility, the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI), and access to structural biology facilities at the DOE Synchrotron Light and Neutron Sources. Support is also provided for research at the interface of the biological and physical sciences and in radiochemistry and instrumentation to develop new methods for real_time, high_resolution imaging of dynamic biological processes.   2)    The Climate and Environmental Sciences subprogram focuses on a predictive, systems_level understanding of the fundamental science associated with climate change and DOE?s environmental challenges?both key to supporting the DOE mission. The subprogram supports an integrated portfolio of research from molecular level to field_scale studies with emphasis on multidisciplinary experimentation and use of advanced computer models. The science and research capabilities enable DOE leadership in climate_relevant atmospheric_process research and modeling, including clouds, aerosols, and the terrestrial carbon cycle; large_scale climate change modeling; integrated analysis of climate change impacts; and advancing fundamental understanding of coupled physical, chemical, and biological processes controlling contaminant mobility in the environment.  The subprogram supports three primary research activities and two national scientific user facilities.  Atmospheric System Research seeks to resolve the two major areas of uncertainty in climate change model projections: the role of clouds and the effects of aerosols on the atmospheric radiation balance.  Environmental System Science supports research that provides scientific understanding of the effects of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems, the role of terrestrial ecosystems in global carbon cycling, and the role of subsurface biogeochemistry in controlling the fate and transport of energy_relevant elements.  Climate and Earth System Modeling focuses on development, evaluation, and use of large scale climate change models to determine the impacts of climate change and mitigation options.   Two scientific user facilities the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) provide the broad scientific community with technical capabilities, scientific expertise, and unique information to facilitate science in areas integral to the BER mission and of importance to DOE.   For additional information regarding the Office of Biological and Environmental Research priorities, click here.TOPIC 19:  Carbon Cycle Measurements of Ecosystems and the Biosphere  Maximum Phase I Award Amount:  $225,000 Maximum Phase II Award Amount:  $1,500,000 Accepting SBIR Phase I Applications:  YES Accepting SBIR Fast_Track Applications:  NO Accepting STTR Phase I Applications:  YES Accepting STTR Fast_Track Applications:  NO Eighty_five percent of our nation’s energy results from the burning of fossil fuels from vast reservoirs of coal, oil, and natural gas. These processes add carbon to the atmosphere, principally in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). It is important to understand the fate of this excess CO2 in the global carbon cycle in order to assess contemporary terrestrial carbon sinks, the sensitivity of climate to atmospheric CO2, and future potentials for sequestration of carbon in terrestrial systems. Therefore, improved measurement approaches are needed to quantify the change of CO2 in atmospheric components of the global carbon cycle. There is also interest in innovative approaches for flux and concentration measurements of methane and other greenhouse gas constituents associated with terrestrial systems as well as quantifying root associated belowground processes relevant to carbon cycling.  The ?First State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR)? (Reference 1) and the ?Carbon Cycling and Biosequestration Report: (Reference 2) provides rough estimates of terrestrial carbon sinks for North America. Numerous working papers on carbon sequestration science and technology also describes research needs and technology requirements for sequestering carbon by terrestrial systems (Reference 3_5). Both documents call for advanced sensor technology and measurement approaches for detecting changes of atmospheric CO2 properties and of carbon quantities of terrestrial systems (including biotic, microbial, and soil components). Such measurement technology would improve the quantification of CO2, as well as carbon stock and flux, in the major sinks identified by the SOCCR report (see Figure ES.1 therein). Furthermore, the ?U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Plan? (Reference 6) provides additional background on critical, overarching research needs related to carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Grant applications submitted to this topic should (1) demonstrate performance characteristics of proposed measurement systems, and (2) show a capability for deployment at field scales ranging from experimental plot size (meters to hectares of land) to nominal dimensions of ecosystems (hectares to square kilometers). Phase I projects must perform feasibility and/or field tests of proposed measurement systems to assure a high degree of reliability and robustness. Combinations of stationary, remote and in situ approaches will be considered, and priority will be given to ideas/approaches for verifying biosphere carbon changes. Measurements using aircraft or balloon platforms must be explicitly linked to real_time ground_based measurements. Grant applications based on satellite remote sensing platforms are beyond the scope of this topic, and will be declined. Return to Top of Document 132.   Grant applications are sought in the following subtopic:  a. Miniaturized Spectroradiometers for Quantifying Terrestrial Ecosystems with Mobile and Unmanned Aerial Systems Terrestrial models rely on detailed parameterizations representing ecosystem processes using trait data describing the vegetation in a given ecosystem. This trait data is often incomplete and derived from a single site, therefore providing an incomplete spatial and temporal representation of key vegetation and ecosystem characteristics (References 7_10). This vegetative and ecological data is often partitioned into discrete plant functional types (PFTs) (current generation models use between five and sixteen PFTs to describe the entire planet) (Reference 11 and 12). As computational power increases it will be possible to provide models with more complex descriptions of ecosystems that replace the use of restrictive PFTs with temporally and spatially resolved trait_space descriptions of plants representing global terrestrial ecosystems. Development of the scientific understanding that will underlie robust trait maps derived from remote sensing observations will require the coupling of traditional trait measurements with the collection of near surface (i.e. leaf to landscape scales) spectral signatures. Currently the development and validation of such parameterization is limited by the ability to validate and scale process knowledge effectively from the leaf and plot scale to the landscape scale. Traditional aircraft and large payload Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) provide an excellent opportunity to tackle scaling issues but the cost, operational requirements, logistics, and scheduling limit the availability to a small number of research applications, and short temporal windows for data collection (Reference 13). The availability, sophistication, and ease of use of small to medium payload UASs has evolved rapidly in the last five years and at the same time the costs of the UAS platforms have decreased considerably. Affordable, light weight UASs offer the opportunity to conduct airborne measurements for upscaling key ecosystem properties useful for constraining and validating ESMs. However, the instrument packages required to measure the spectral characteristics of vegetation canopies _ which are needed to develop physiological trait maps _ far exceed the capability of these lightweight UASs. Thus, it would be a transformational step if spectroradiometers could be miniaturized to enable them to be flown on inexpensive, small, off_the_shelf UAS platforms. If available, this technology would rapidly accelerate ongoing efforts to scale key ecosystem traits to broader spatial scales and throughout critical vegetation development stages. Once validated at the plot and landscape scales, algorithms can be developed to allow temporal and spatial trait mapping across the globe ? this would provide a transformational increase in trait data richness for ESMs, and when coupled with improved process knowledge, result in a marked reduction in model uncertainty.  Grant applications are sought for technology innovation to capitalize on the increasing utility of UAS platforms for scientific missions.  There is an urgent need to accelerate the miniaturization of existing instrumentation and integration with UASs. High resolutions, lightweight, durable spectroradiometers, are needed to achieve this goal and should contain the following minimum technical specifications:  Wavelength Range: 350_2500nm  Spectral Resolution: <10nm across the full range  Spectral Bandwidths: <4nm across the full range  Minimal Spatial Footprint: 30cm diameter  Wavelength Reproducibility: 0.1nm  Minimum Integration Speed: 10ms VNIR, 1.0ms SWIR  Wavelength Accuracy: ?1nm VNIR, ?2nm SWIR  Noise equivalent Radiance (NER): <1.5x10_9 across the full range  Calibration Accuracy (NIST): ?5% @400nm, ?4% @700nm, ?7% @2200nm  Operation Time: Sufficient power for 30 minutes of operation  Instrument Dimension: Must be compatible with small to medium UAS platforms  Mass: Fully operational system must be <2.5kg  Software and Data Integration Capability: Capable of storing potential data streams from 30 minute missions.  The data management software must be capable of spatial and temporal integration and georeferencing. The software must also be capable of producing a seamless assembly of data streams from multiple sensors e.g. Thermal IR camera _ possibly on the same or additional UASs. Instrument software should be capable of synchronizing with the UASs flight planning software to enable instrument actuated transition through the flight plan.  Questions ? Contact: Daniel Stover, daniel.stover@science.doe.gov b. Other In addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department invites grant applications in other areas that fall within the scope of the topic description above.  Questions ? Contact: Daniel Stover, daniel.stover@science.doe.gov

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