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Coastal Sciences Division

Marine Sciences Laboratory

PNNL's Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL), located at the mouth of Sequim Bay in Washington State, is the U.S. Department of Energy's research and development capability focused on helping the nation achieve its needs for sustainable energy, a sustaining environment, and robust security in coastal environments.

Over half of our 15,000 square feet of research laboratories are connected to the Bay via a supply system that delivers 200 gallons per minute of seawater, fully treats it after use to remove chemical and biological components, and returns it to the Bay. MSL's unique location also places it within one of the cleanest airsheds in the world, providing the ultratrace background for our work in measurement and signature sciences.

Research at MSL is supported by approximately 85 staff with expertise in biotechnology, biogeochemistry, ecosystems science, toxicology, and earth systems modeling, as well as a scientific dive team supporting in-water research and testing. Research includes work on

  • algal biofuels
  • climate change and ocean acidification
  • biofouling/biocorrosion
  • detection and signature development
  • environmental monitoring/measurement system development and testing
  • quantifying transport, fate, and effects of chemicals in marine environments
  • and coastal risk/hazard prediction and analysis.
Sustainable Ocean Energy

Sustainable Ocean Energy

Researchers at MSL produce tools and discoveries that enable sustainable energy from coastal environments for our nation, including renewable electricity, biofuels, hydrocarbons, and nuclear energy. Our science and engineering programs are directed towards:

  • Developing, testing, and deploying predictive tools supporting facility siting, operation, and emergency response
  • Developing, testing, and deploying effective environmental measurement technologies
  • Developing and testing technologies to improve energy production and environmental performance
  • Quantifying and guiding mitigation of adverse environmental impacts
Environmental Systems Performance

Environmental Systems Performance

MSL researchers are delivering integrative science, modeling, and analytical tools that guide actions to prevent and reverse ecosystem declines. Our programs focus on linkages between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including:

  • Research on nutrient, contaminant, and carbon transport and cycling processes within the land-ocean interface
  • Multi-scale population, community, and earth systems modeling linking environmental systems to climate, engineered systems, and landscapes
  • Adaptive environmental management within a quantitative systems framework
Measurements and Signatures

Measurements and Signatures

Researchers at MSL engineer innovative approaches to address the greatest challenges in detecting and responding to national and global threats. Our programs focus on developing efficient and effective ways to acquire data from environmental media (air, water, sediment and biota) and translate those data into actionable intelligence. These include:

  • Ultratrace detection for high fidelity sensing and forensics
  • Applied biofouling and biocorrosion research
  • Maritime systems and operations development and testing
  • PNNL Develops EyeSea, a Machine-Learning Tool to Automate Video Analysis of MHK Sites

    PNNL Develops EyeSea, a Machine-Learning Tool to Automate Video Analysis of MHK Sites

    A new tool, called EyeSea uses machine vision algorithms to "watch" underwater video footage and flag footage where a fish or mammal is near a marine energy turbine. If deployed, EyeSea could improve understanding of wildlife interactions and help safely deploy wave energy technologies.

  • Block Island Wind Farm is the U.S.'s first commercial offshore wind farm

    Wind and Wildlife Interactions: A World-Wide Solution Cannot Be "One Size Fits All"

    International group researches adaptive management to reduce wind energy and wildlife interactions. Adaptive management has the potential to reduce scientific uncertainty and improve policies and practices for future wind development. It may also advance the wind energy industry while simultaneously reducing environmental effects.

  • PNNL Contributes Expertise to Gulf Coast Oil Spill Restoration Study

    PNNL Contributes Expertise to Gulf Coast Oil Spill Restoration Study

    The Macondo Well Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the largest accidental oil spill in U.S. history. The spring 2010 spill caused widespread destruction to Gulf Coast communities, numerous habitats, and species. A study was sponsored to inform monitoring and evaluation of restoration activities in the Gulf, and the results were captured in a report.

  • ThermalTracker

    ThermalTracker: The Secret Lives of Bats and Birds Revealed

    Offshore wind developers and stakeholders can accelerate the sustainable, widespread deployment of offshore wind using a new open-source software program called ThermalTracker. Researchers can now collect the data they need to better understand the potential effects of offshore wind turbines on bird and bat populations.

  • The Ultimate Wind Energy Research Assistant: WREN Hub

    The Ultimate Wind Energy Research Assistant: WREN Hub

    A PNNL-developed website called Tethys supports a growing community of researchers, regulators, and developers in the areas of wind and marine energy. Tethys added a resource called WREN Hub to provide users with an easily searchable database of white papers and scientific reports regarding how wind energy devices impact wildlife.

  • Samuel Harding and Marshall Richmond

    Marine Energy Paper Chosen from Among Sea of Candidates

    PNNL researchers Samuel Harding and Marshall Richmond's co-authored paper was selected to receive a 2015 Outstanding Paper Award from Measurement Science and Technology. The paper was downloaded more than 500 times in the first 90 days after publication.

Marine Sciences Laboratory

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