DOE Pulse
  • Number 337  |
  • May 16, 2011

ORNL team aids "State of the Birds 2011" report

A snapshot taken from a first-principles molecular dynamics simulation of liquid methane in contact with a hydrogen-terminated diamond surface at high temperature and pressure. The spontaneous formation of longer hydrocarbons are readily found during the simulations.

"State of the Birds 2011" report.

Ornithology joined forces with high-performance computing to support a new report on bird habitat released May 3 by the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Agriculture Under Secretary Harris Sherman.

The "State of the Birds" report relied on staff from DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who helped analyze more than 600,000 bird observations collected and logged in Cornell University's eBird database by citizen birders. The report evaluates the distribution of birds on nearly 850 million acres of public land and will be used to set policy agendas for governmental and non-governmental conservation efforts.
Through the National Science Foundation's DataONE (Observation Network for Earth) project, ORNL team members helped integrate volunteer-collected eBird observations with environmental data from land use databases and remote satellite sensing data from the NASA-funded Distributed Active Archive Center at ORNL. With access to NSF's TeraGrid, a collaborative collection of eleven high-performance computing centers, the team was able to calculate bird migration maps with with unprecedented detail and accuracy.

"Maps of this detail are useful in making land use and other policy decisions that affect habitat for important species," said Cobb, who leads the ORNL Resource Provider effort for the TeraGrid.

While this year's report focused on the relationship between land use and bird habitat, Cobb says future plans include conducting multi-year analyses to better understand how bird migration patterns vary over time, perhaps providing indicators of climate change.

ORNL collaborators include Robert Cook and Suresh Santhana Vannan from the Environmental Sciences Division, Bruce Wilson from the Information Technology Services Division, and Line Pouchard and Cobb from the Computer Science and Mathematics Division.

[Morgan McCorkle, 865.574.7308,]