Researchers look through microscopes at damage to fish by rapid decompression.

PNNL's Earth Systems Science Division enables energy independence and national security through leadership in earth systems science, engineering, and decision analytics. Our work focuses on solving complex problems in the dynamic Earth system. Our interdisciplinary scientists steward a breadth of efforts that encompass research on plants to groundwater science and coastal zones, to storm prediction.

Our research focuses on understanding and mitigating operational risks at the interface of human and natural environments. This includes predicting the impacts of natural hazards and extreme climate events on Earth and human systems, along with the impacts of wildfire, flooding, sea level rise and storm surges. We focus on understanding and mitigating environmental contamination and increasing the resiliency, security and sustainability of water resources. We provide geointelligence through advanced sensing and data analytics to forecast complex system behaviors and operational performance to understand human-natural systems. This includes informed decision making and enhanced community resilience, advanced monitoring, and remote sensing of environmental systems for energy and national security. It also includes developing energy systems, including geothermal energy, sustainable oil and gas production, storage and utilization, along with carbon sequestration.

Driven by a “science-to-solutions” philosophy, we provide scientific leadership and technology to enhance national security, mitigate natural hazards and optimize disaster response. In the critical areas of energy, environment, intelligence, and defense, we deliver insights and decision support through the development of tools and solutions.

Our expertise focuses on the following:

  • Applied Decision Analytics & Visualization
  • Applied Engineering
  • Applied Geophysics & Geomechanics
  • Applied Software Engineering & Technology
  • Computational Geophysics
  • Decision Support Systems
  • Decision Web Systems
  • Earth Systems Data Science
  • Environmental Assessment
  • Environmental Justice
  • Environmental Signatures
  • Geospatial Science, Analytics & Geointelligence
  • Health Physics & Programmatic Risk
  • Integrated Project Support
  • Risk Analysis
  • Sensing, Measurement & Forecasting
  • Subsurface Fate & Transport Modeling
  • Subsurface Process Science
  • Subsurface Systems
  • Waterpower Systems Science & Engineering
  • Watershed Hydrology Modeling

Earth Systems Science Projects and Tools




The Hydropower and Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System (HydroWIRESinitiative is designed to clarify hydropower's role in the modern grid infrastructure and to explore oppoortunities for optimizing grid operations.

Donald Jorgensen/PNNL

Photo of Earth from NASA satellite

This image from NASA depicts a full view of the Earth, taken by the Geostationary Operational Environment Satellite (GOES-8). The red and green charnels represent visible data, while the blue channel represents inverted 11 micron infrared data. 

(Image courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA])