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Tsang C.-F.,Earth science DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeley | Tsang Y.,Earth science DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeley
Water Resources Research | Year: 2015

Significant progress in hydrology, especially in subsurface flow and solute transport, has been made over the last 35 years because of sustained interest in underground nuclear waste repositories. The present paper provides an overview of the key hydrologic issues involved, and to highlight advances in their understanding and treatment because of these efforts. The focus is not on the development of radioactive waste repositories and their safety assessment, but instead on the advances in hydrologic science that have emerged from such studies. Work and results associated with three rock types, which are being considered to host the repositories, are reviewed, with a different emphasis for each rock type. The first rock type is fractured crystalline rock, for which the discussion will be mainly on flow and transport in saturated fractured rock. The second rock type is unsaturated tuff, for which the emphasis will be on flow from the shallow subsurface through the unsaturated zone to the repository. The third rock type is clay-rich formations, whose permeability is very low in an undisturbed state. In this case, the emphasis will be on hydrologic issues that arise from mechanical and thermal disturbances; i.e., on the relevant coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical processes. The extensive research results, especially those from multiyear large-scale underground research laboratory investigations, represent a rich body of information and data that can form the basis for further development in the related areas of hydrologic research. © 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Source

Ghimire B.,Earth science DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeley | Riley W.J.,Earth science DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeley | Koven C.D.,Earth science DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeley
Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems | Year: 2016

In many ecosystems, nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient for plant growth and productivity. However, current Earth System Models (ESMs) do not mechanistically represent functional nitrogen allocation for photosynthesis or the linkage between nitrogen uptake and root traits. The current version of CLM (4.5) links nitrogen availability and plant productivity via (1) an instantaneous downregulation of potential photosynthesis rates based on soil mineral nitrogen availability, and (2) apportionment of soil nitrogen between plants and competing nitrogen consumers assumed to be proportional to their relative N demands. However, plants do not photosynthesize at potential rates and then downregulate; instead photosynthesis rates are governed by nitrogen that has been allocated to the physiological processes underpinning photosynthesis. Furthermore, the role of plant roots in nutrient acquisition has also been largely ignored in ESMs. We therefore present a new plant nitrogen model for CLM4.5 with (1) improved representations of linkages between leaf nitrogen and plant productivity based on observed relationships in a global plant trait database and (2) plant nitrogen uptake based on root-scale Michaelis-Menten uptake kinetics. Our model improvements led to a global bias reduction in GPP, LAI, and biomass of 70%, 11%, and 49%, respectively. Furthermore, water use efficiency predictions were improved conceptually, qualitatively, and in magnitude. The new model's GPP responses to nitrogen deposition, CO2 fertilization, and climate also differed from the baseline model. The mechanistic representation of leaf-level nitrogen allocation and a theoretically consistent treatment of competition with belowground consumers led to overall improvements in global carbon cycling predictions. © 2016. The Authors. Source

Agartan E.,Colorado School of Mines | Trevisan L.,Colorado School of Mines | Cihan A.,Earth science DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeley | Birkholzer J.,Earth science DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeley | And 2 more authors.
Water Resources Research | Year: 2015

Dissolution trapping is one of the primary mechanisms that enhance the storage security of supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) in saline geologic formations. When scCO2 dissolves in formation brine produces an aqueous solution that is denser than formation brine, which leads to convective mixing driven by gravitational instabilities. Convective mixing can enhance the dissolution of CO2 and thus it can contribute to stable trapping of dissolved CO2. However, in the presence of geologic heterogeneities, diffusive mixing may also contribute to dissolution trapping. The effects of heterogeneity on mixing and its contribution to stable trapping are not well understood. The goal of this experimental study is to investigate the effects of geologic heterogeneity on mixing and stable trapping of dissolved CO2. Homogeneous and heterogeneous media experiments were conducted in a two-dimensional test tank with various packing configurations using surrogates for scCO2 (water) and brine (propylene glycol) under ambient pressure and temperature conditions. The results show that the density-driven flow in heterogeneous formations may not always cause significant convective mixing especially in layered systems containing low-permeability zones. In homogeneous formations, density-driven fingering enhances both storage in the deeper parts of the formation and contact between the host rock and dissolved CO2 for the potential mineralization. On the other hand, for layered systems, dissolved CO2 becomes immobilized in low-permeability zones with low-diffusion rates, which reduces the risk of leakage through any fault or fracture. Both cases contribute to the permanence of the dissolved plume in the formation. © 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Source

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