Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Smithsonian scientist Genevieve Noyce conducts a plant census in a wetland at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland.


How the Smithsonian Grapples With Climate Change

As a hub for research and education, the Institution is poised to help the world find solutions to the global challenge

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for captive apes.

Ask Smithsonian

How Do Gorillas Get Heart Disease? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

Orange scalefin anthias fish swarm in front of a fire coral in the Red Sea's Ras Mohammed Marine Park, Egypt.

Smithsonian Voices

Will the Oceans of 2030 Brim With Reef Robots and Other Fancy Stuff?

Imagine a world where an Indigenous fisher can get forecasts of local marine life from a smartphone, or robots offer real-time data on coral reef health

Some designers promote fashion lines based on kente cloth from Ghana.

When Is Kente Cloth Worn and More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

Smithsonian Voices

River Otters Take 'Party Pooping' to a New Level

Latrines keep otters up to date on who is around, how they are feeling, and who’s ready to have babies

Monitor local animal populations, identify plants, transcribe women astronomers' notes, bird-watch and more.

Education During Coronavirus

Seventy-Five Scientific Research Projects You Can Contribute to Online

From astrophysicists to entomologists, many researchers need the help of citizen scientists to sift through immense data collections

Recommendations include Things That Make White People Uncomfortable, Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America and The Making of Black Revolutionaries: A Personal Account.

Race in America

Smithsonian Scholars and Researchers Share Works That Shed Light on the History of U.S. Racism

In this dynamic time, a list of film, podcasts and books is offered for a nation grappling with its fraught history

The Global Change Environmental Research Wetland spans 173 acres in Edgewater, Maryland.

Marshes Grow Stronger When Faced With Increased Carbon Dioxide

Marsh plants respond to increased CO2 by growing many small stems, creating a denser wetland that may protect against sea level rise

Unlike seeds of other plants, orchid seeds (above, a seed packet) do not contain the nutrition they need to sprout. They get it from fungi.

Why the Conservation of Orchids Is No Simple Matter

Smithsonian's Sidedoor podcast visits with researchers working to understand the conditions these threatened plants need to grow

Ginkgo has survived three mass extinctions, including the one that killed the dinosaurs.

Smithsonian Scientists Are Using Ginkgo Leaves to Study Climate Change—They Need Your Help

Citizen scientists can submit leaf samples from their hometowns through the end of August

Low oxygen caused the death of these corals and others in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The dead crabs pictured also succumbed to the loss of dissolved oxygen.

Why Our Oceans Are Starting to Suffocate

A new paper links global warming to diminished oxygen concentrations at sea

A rare Eld's deer fawn was born at the National Zoo last fall.

Future of Conservation

Take a Walk on the Bright Side at the First Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit

As an antidote to doom and gloom, a conference on Earth Day weekend, takes a look all the good that is being done

One of the rarest orchids east of the Mississippi, the small-whorled pogonia, emerges from a long dormancy when there is an abundance of specific fungi in the soil.

A Mystery of Hiding Orchids, Solved

Smithsonian scientists have discovered what triggers the rare small-whorled pogonia to awaken from dormancy

“We’ve been raising CO2 in this marsh for 30 years, but [elevated] CO2 comes with warming,” says Pat Megonigal, lead researcher of the new study in the Global Change Research Wetland at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC).

Age of Humans

For the World’s Wetlands, It May Be Sink or Swim. Here’s Why It Matters

One of the world’s most long-studied marshes has revealed a wealth of information, but it continues to perplex and intrigue the scientists who analyze it

Though threatened by adverse conditions in the Chesapeake Bay, oysters are filter feeders and may provide a much-needed solution for better water quality.

Let Oysters Get Sick to Clean Up the Chesapeake

The delicious oyster you love to slurp might be the best bet for clearing away pollutants

Faced with the only high-cost options, Smithsonian researcher Whitman Miller began building his own portable, inexpensive monitoring stations.

Saving Money is Great, but Saving the Chesapeake Bay Will Be Even Better

Whitman Miller's “off the shelf” technology may answer complicated questions about rising CO2 and ocean acidification

An algae bloom off the coast of Maryland. Such blooms help create low-oxygen areas called dead zones as the algae respire or decompose.


Ocean Dead Zones Are Getting Worse Globally Due to Climate Change

Warmer waters and other factors will cause nearly all areas of low oxygen to grow by the end of the century

Bubbles from the divers' breathing aparatus collect on the belly of the ship.


What's So Important About the Bottom of a Cargo Ship? A Smithsonian Dive Team Explains

Smithsonian photographer Laurie Penland details the exhausting, but rewarding, work of scraping invasive species off the hull of a boat

Located on the Rhode River of the Chesapeake bay, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's new laboratory building emits 37 percent less CO2 and cuts energy costs by 42 percent.

A New Environmental Science Lab Now Walks the Walk, Cutting Its Overall Emissions by 37 Percent

With geothermal heating, on-site water reclamation and a host of other energy saving technologies, the Smithsonian's first LEED-Platinum building opens


Environmental Research Center Opens Its Doors for Family Day

Family Fall Day gives visitors the chance to see research on the bay up close

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