Internal Deadline: Contact ORIF.
LOI: December 1, 2022, 5pm ET
External Deadline: February 23, 2023, 11:59pm ET
Award Type: Grants and Interagency Agreements
Estimated Number of Awards: 10 to 14
Anticipated Award Amount: A multi-institutional team, whether applied for as a prime applicant with subawards or as collaborative applications, is limited to a request of a total award of no more than $1,000,000.
Who May Serve as PI: Individuals with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as a Principal Investigator (PI) are invited to work with their organizations to develop an application. Individuals from underrepresented groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply.
Process for Limited Submissions
PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal: https://orif.usc.edu/oor-portal/.
Materials to submit include:
- (1) Single Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 1-page limit will be excluded from review.
- (2) CV – (5 pages maximum)
Note: The portal requires information about the PIs and Co-PIs in addition to department and contact information, including the 10-digit USC ID#, Gender, and Ethnicity. Please have this material prepared before beginning this application.
The BER ESS program goal is to advance an integrated, robust, and scale-aware predictive understanding of terrestrial systems and their interdependent microbial, biogeochemical, ecological, hydrological, and physical processes. To support this goal, the program uses a systems approach to develop an integrative framework to elucidate the complex processes and controls on the structure, function, feedbacks, and dynamics of terrestrial systems, that span from molecular to global scales and extend from the bedrock through the soil, rhizosphere, and vegetation to the atmosphere. The ESS program scope advances foundational process knowledge with an emphasis on understudied ecosystems. Supported research emphasizes ecological and hydro-biogeochemical linkages among system components and characterization of processes across interfaces (e.g., terrestrial-aquatic, coastal, urban) to address key knowledge gaps and uncertainties across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Incorporation of scientific findings into process and system models is an important aspect of the ESS strategy, both to improve predictive understanding as well as to enable the identification of new research questions and directions.
This FOA will support research within the ESS program only under the Science Research Areas described below. Pre-applications and applications must clearly indicate the specific Science Research Area that is being targeted. Pre-applications and/or applications that do not clearly identify a Science Research Area, or indicate multiple areas, will be declined without review.
Science Research Area 1: Improved Understanding of Hot Spots and Hot Moments of Biogeochemical Cycling in Terrestrial Aquatic Interfaces (TAIs) (Standard Applications Only)
Terrestrial-Aquatic Interfaces (TAIs; e.g., shorelines, riparian zones, hyporheic zones and wetlands) possess unique biological, hydrological, and biogeochemical attributes that can produce exceptionally high and variable rates of biological activity and biogeochemical cycling. These extreme rates may be sustained, transient, or sporadic in the ecosystem, resulting in biogeochemical “hot spots” and/or “hot moments” that have a high degree of influence on biogeochemical cycles of key nutrients and elements at ecosystem and watershed scales that can greatly exceed the proportional space and time scales at which they occur. Accurately and precisely measuring and predicting their occurrence and quantifying their magnitude and impact remains a key gap toward achieving a predictive understanding of TAI biogeochemical cycling, flux, and feedbacks. This is particularly important because processes at these interfaces are typically excluded or oversimplified in biogeochemical, ecosystem, watershed, and Earth system models, despite their potential to provide major feedbacks to Earth and environmental systems and their critical role in biogeochemical cycles at greater spatial scales.
The goal of applications for this Science Research Area is to support new field investigations of biogeochemical “hot spots” and/or “hot moments” within TAIs, thereby leading to better quantification of their process drivers, magnitude, and occurrence, and enabling robust incorporation of these processes and their causal factors into a range of process-based models. Hot spots/moments are defined as episodic or isolated occurrences of biogeochemical cycling that are substantially greater or lesser than would typically be expected. The scope of applications is expected to encompass observational and/or experimental research that produces significant new measurements as well as a clear and deliberate linkage to modeling in a ModEx approach. Deliberately linking field research to models will help advance predictive, scale-aware understanding of the role of hot spots and hot moments of TAI processes in key element and nutrient biogeochemical cycling in ecosystem, watershed, and/or Earth system models. The TAI research focus is limited to those terrestrial system processes occurring at and influenced by the immediate interface between terrestrial ecosystems and freshwater and/or brackish water systems. Aquatic-focused processes influenced by terrestrial systems are out of scope. Research that focuses primarily on aquatic processes, agricultural systems, water or land management, contaminants, ocean systems, engineered or artificial systems, wildlife or macro-organismal processes, or ecosystem services, or studies that focus primarily on the development and/or parameterization of models without equally contributing new fundamental understanding of ecosystem or watershed processes, is similarly out of scope and will not be considered.
Science Research Area 2: Cold-Region Ecosystem and Watershed Process Responses to Changing Cold-Season Climate Drivers (Standard Applications Only)
Cold-region ecosystems and watersheds are those defined by the presence of snow and/or ice that regularly persist for several days per occurrence for a part of the year (i.e., the cold season defined by climatically average presence of snow or ice). Key ecological and hydrobiogeochemical processes in these ecosystems are often highly adapted to the occurrence and characteristics of this cold season, such as freeze/thaw cycles; snowfall/rainfall ratios; snow, ice, and glacial cover; and vegetation type, cover, and dynamics. As cold-season climate features and thresholds change (e.g., snowfall amounts, snowmelt dynamics, and air and soil temperature patterns) in mountain, high latitude, and other cold-region ecosystems, there is a need for better predictive understanding of the underlying mechanisms as well as those thresholds and the potential tipping points of critical ecosystem and hydro-biogeochemical processes. A report from a recent DOE-led workshop on Integrated Mountain Hydroclimate (https://ess.science.energy.gov/imhc-workshop/) identified winter climate variability and change as a key uncertainty in developing a more complete understanding of integrated mountain hydroclimate from the subsurface to the atmosphere, which could then be incorporated into process models and ESMs. Key climate variables likely to impact ecosystem and watershed processes include sudden and long-term thermal and hydrologic shifts, and changes in frequency or severity of cold-season disturbance events (e.g., rain-on-snow flooding, ice storms, or wildfire impacts) that will alter plant, microbial, and nutrient processes in these environments.
Projects are sought that investigate mechanistic and process-level interactions between shifts in cold-season climate drivers and ecosystem and watershed responses, especially ones that lead to large changes in ecosystem and watershed scale functioning and feedbacks (e.g., whole ecosystem productivity, ecosystem/watershed-scale carbon or nutrient fluxes or exports, and watershed-scale water and energy balance changes) in cold-region systems. The scope of applications should encompass observational and/or experimental research as well as deliberate linkages to modeling in a ModEx approach. Proposed research should result in improved understanding of ecological and/or hydrological processes and their responses to changing coldseason duration, precipitation regimes, and/or soil temperatures within the cold season. Field and laboratory results are also expected to be translated into improved representation and parameterization in ecosystem, watershed, and Earth system models. These efforts should allow models to adequately capture transient dynamics, sensitivity to change, and potential state shifts in these critical ecosystems. This solicitation targets critical ecosystems in cold regions, defined by the climatically average presence of snow and/or ice that regularly lasts for several days per occurrence for at least part of the year, including mountain watersheds, boreal forests/peatlands, and high-latitude tundra. Research that focuses primarily on aquatic processes, agricultural systems, forest management, contaminants, engineered or artificial systems, ecosystem services, human interactions, macro-organismal interactions, ocean, studies that primarily focus on remote sensing, or studies that focus primarily on the development and/or parameterization of models without equally contributing new fundamental understanding of ecosystem or watershed processes is out of scope and will not be considered.
Science Research Area 3: Synthesis Research for Transferable Insights (Synthesis Applications Only)
Synthesis and meta-analysis studies play an important role in accelerating scientific discovery and building predictive understanding by harnessing existing data to identify and evaluate emergent patterns, generalizable principles, and fundamental insights from extensive datasets that go beyond what can be learned from site-specific studies. ESS has a long-standing and strong commitment to an open-science and open-data philosophy, across a portfolio of past and current research activities using site observations, experimentation, field manipulations, and model simulations to improve process-based, scale-aware predictive understanding of ecosystems and watersheds. The goal of applications to this Science Research Area should be to propose novel, hypothesis-driven studies addressing topics within the ESS program scope that can be investigated by integrating and interrogating findings and/or data from prior observational and/or experimental research activities. Studies leveraging existing ESS-supported data resources and networks (https://ess.science.energy.gov/data/) are particularly encouraged, as is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) techniques.
Applications to this topic must propose synthesis and/or meta-analysis studies that will advance the understanding of identified knowledge gaps or uncertainties in process-based predictive models. Applications addressing the following themes are especially encouraged:
• Transitional, boundary, and interfacial ecosystems
• Scaling of spatially restricted systems and/or processes
• The role of antecedent hydrologic conditions (e.g., precipitation, soil moisture) on regulating ecosystem and watershed scale processes
• Influence of ecological legacy on contemporary function
• Partitioning of evaporation and transpiration components of evapotranspiration
• Mechanisms of soil organic matter stabilization/destabilization
The following topics are NOT within the scope of this Science Research Area: applied/operational science, policy or regulatory topics; agricultural/silvicultural systems, natural resource management, or managed systems; ecosystem services; development of or operational support for networks, centers, or other infrastructure; studies that focus primarily on the development and/or parameterization of models without equally contributing new fundamental understanding of ecosystem or watershed processes.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.