Urban Integrated Field Laboratories to Strengthen DOE Leadership in Climate Modeling

The Texas Gulf Coast, Chicago, and Baltimore will receive $66 million in financing from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to create Urban Integrated Field Laboratories (Urban IFLs). This initiative will involve more than 20 institutions.

These Urban IFLs will deepen the understanding of climate and weather events and how they affect urban systems, considering a variety of demographic factors, demands from the environment on people and infrastructure, and geographic contexts.

Building resilient cities with sustainable energy infrastructure is essential to achieving President Biden’s target of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. This is accomplished through understanding how climate change will affect urban systems and infrastructure.

Understanding the risks of climate change and extreme weather means understanding the direct and indirect effects on people, their homes, their businesses, and the communities they live in. The Urban Integrated Field Labs will strengthen DOE leadership in climate modeling and drive scientific breakthroughs to inform the development of resilience technology that can protect America’s diverse communities.

Jennifer Granholm, US Secretary of Energy

To research the environmental, ecological, infrastructural, and human components of their chosen metropolitan locations, each Urban IFL project team combines scientific competence from several universities with various skills in field observations, data assimilation, modeling, and model-data fusion.

The chosen projects will improve our understanding of urban systems from a scientific perspective and apply that knowledge to develop equitable climate and energy solutions, boost community-scale resilience in urban landscapes, and address the effects of climate change on underrepresented and disadvantaged communities.

The three chosen projects will operate in three distinct urban areas, each of which has a unique and diversified population of disadvantaged populations and is subject to various environmental and climatic hazards.

Each of the chosen IFLs features sizable participation from local and minority-serving institutions. It will offer new chances at these institutions to inspire, teach, and assist top scientists aware of the twenty-first century's global climate and energy concerns.

The DOE Office of Science’s dedication to the “Justice 40” strategy, which focuses on investment in diverse and marginalized areas affected by a changing environment, will be significantly strengthened by the Urban IFLs.

The Urban IFL Projects Include:

  • A network of observations and modeling will be used in Chicago, Illinois, the third-largest city in the country, under the direction of Argonne National Laboratory, to explore a variety of issues, including mitigation through green roofs and blue spaces as well as community-driven future scenarios for adaptation and decarbonization.
  • Austin, Texas, under the direction of the University of Texas at Austin in Beaumont/Port Arthur Texas, concentrates on the unique difficulties of industrialized, medium-sized port cities, including significant petrochemical industry legacies, and how climate change may affect urban flooding and air quality.
  • Baltimore, Maryland, is a mid-sized industrial city in the Eastern and Midwest of the United States that Johns Hopkins University leads. It focuses on a metro area facing interconnected problems with aging infrastructure, increased heat and flood risk, and unequal air and water pollution burdens.

While each project is unique, they all share characteristics with other American cities and will produce new tools and methods that will allow other cities to profit from the research and success stories of these Urban IFLs.

According to the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for Urban Integrated Field Laboratories, the projects were chosen through a competitive peer review process. Subject to funding, additional decisions will be made in the fiscal year 2023.

The total funding is $66 million, with $18 million coming from the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and the remaining money depending on Congressional appropriations for projects that can continue for up to five years.

 Source: https://www.energy.gov/

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