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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

Marine Sciences Laboratory

Research Areas

PNNL Websites