Environmental Sciences and Energy Research


Brian Berkowitz, Head
The Sam Zuckerberg Professorial Chair

Research in the department includes both experimental/field and theoretical studies focused on understanding the complex inter-relationships among the major Earth systems, and on the human need for non-polluting energy sources.

Scientists in the department have expertise in a range of Earth-Science disciplines, including climate dynamics, oceanic circulation, hydrology, paleoceanography and the study of past climatic patterns, plant-environment interaction, atmospheric chemistry and earth system dynamics. These disciplines, and topics studied in each one of them, are ultimately integrated as a means to understand and predict local, regional and global changes.

Our main objective for the future is to develop scientific activities that explore the critical interfaces coupling the Earth systems. These include the biosphere-atmosphere, ocean-atmosphere, ocean-sediment, and land surface-groundwater interfaces. We also aim to offer solar energy sources as alternative to those which are adversely affecting our environment.

Research topics in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research include:

Atmospheric chemistry: Analytical chemistry of the atmosphere; Aerosol physics and chemistry including surface and heterogeneous chemistry; Aerosol optical properties; vegetation-climate interactions; Aerosol-climate interactions, Nano-particle chemistry in the atmosphere(Principal investigator: Yinon Rudich)

Clouds and cloud-aerosol interactions: Using remote sensing to study the radiation transfer in the atmosphere, cloud microphysics, inversion of the physical properties of the clouds and aerosols. Remote sensing and patterns and texture in clouds are also used to estimate manmade impacts on the radiation and the thermodynamic balance of the atmosphere, as well as on the water cycle. (Principal investigator: Ilan Koren)

Hydrology: Integration of laboratory and field studies with theoretical models to understand flow of water, and transport of conservative and reactive chemicals, from the ground surface, through the unsaturated zone, and within saturated geological formations. Transport in porous media. Development of chemical methods for remediation of contaminated water. (Principal investigator: Brian Berkowitz)

Biogeochemistry: Plant-atmosphere interactions; Environmental influence on the exchange of trace gases and energy between land ecosystem and the atmosphere; Climatic influence on the natural abundance of carbon; oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in CO2, H2O and organic materials; Scaling biological processes from cellular to global scales. Tracing photosynthetic CO2 fluxes with Carbonyl Sulfide (COS).(Principal investigator: Dan Yakir)

Physical Oceanography and climate dynamics: Interactions between ocean biota and climate; Climate dynamics and paleoclimate; Dynamics of the Gulf of Eilat; Radio-wave oceanography. (Principal investigator: Hezi Gildor)

Paleoceanography and climate change: Global climate change reconstructions from stable isotope records in marine and continental sediments; Southern Ocean paleoceanography. Oxygen isotopes in biogenic silica; Stable isotopes in diatom records; Carbon and oxygen stable isotopes in corals. (Principal investigator: Aldo Shemesh)

Energy Research: Focusing mainly on finding methods of utilization of concentrated solar radiation for efficient, cost-competitive solutions affecting

This includes the development of new solar thermal systems; solar derived 'clean' fuels; concentrated photovoltaic systems; high temperature water splitting and carbon dioxide dissociation; high temperature water splitting; high temperature catalytic processes. (Principal investigator: Jacob Karni)


Research Staff, Visitors and Students


Brian Berkowitz, D.Sc., Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
       The Sam Zuckerberg Professorial Chair in Hydrology
Israel Dostrovsky, Ph.D., University of London, London, United Kingdom (deceased September 2010)
       Institute Professor
       The Agnes Spencer Professorial Chair of Physical Chemistry
Yinon Rudich, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Dan Yakir, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem at Rehovot, Rehovot, Israel

Professors Emeriti

Joel R Gat, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Martin M. Halmann, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

Associate Professors

Jacob Karni, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States
Aldo Shemesh, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
       The Barry Rymer Family Professorial Chair

Senior Scientists

Hezi Gildor, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel (left July 2010)
       Incumbent of the Rowland and Sylvia Schaefer Career Development Chair
Ilan Koren, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
       Incumbent of the Benjamin H. Swig and Jack D. Weiler Career Development Chair

Associate Staff Scientists

Ishai Dror, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem
Eyal Rotenberg, Ph.D., Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
Irina Vishnevetsky, Ph.D., Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation
Ruth Yam, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Senior Interns

Ali Abo Rizig, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, California, United States
Orit Altaratz Stollar, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel


Ruth M.J. Benmair, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel (left August 2010)


Rimon Arieli, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel (left January 2010)
Itai Carmeli (until April 2010)
Israel Carmi
Erick Fredj, Jerusalem College of technology, Jerusalem, Israel (left April 2010)
Joel R Gat
Ellen Graber, Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel (left February 2010)
Martin M. Halmann
Emanuel Mazor
Tamar Moise
Harvey Scher
Bruno Yaron, Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel

Visiting Scientists

Oded Aharonson, California Institute of Technology, U.S.A.
Emmanuel Boss, University of Maine, Orono, ME, U.S.A.
Graham Feingold, NOAA - Aeronomy Lab., CO, U.S.A.
Nadine Goeppert, University of Karlsruhe, (TKM), Germany
Alex Kostinski, Tech. University of Michigan, U.S.A.
Yoav Lehan, Tel-Aviv University , Israel
Jose Vanderlei Martins, University of Maryland, U.S.A.
Lorraine Remer, NASA, Greenbelt, MD, U.S.A.
Eli Tziperman, Harvard University , MA, U.S.A.
Karen Willbrand, University of Cologne, Germany
Warren Wiscombe, NASA, Greenbelt, MD, U.S.A.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Yury Alioshin, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Gilboa Arye, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
David Asaf, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Diana Gurevitch, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Hemu Kharel Kafle, Nagoya University
Eran Tas, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Research Students

Gabriela Adler Yury Alioshin
Rotem Bar-Or Yuval Ben Ami
Tal Ben MosheEliyahu Biton
Yaniv Edery Gidon Fridman
Liran Goren Maxime Gouet-Kaplan
Eitan Hirsch Tamir Klein
Naama Lang-Yona Leehee Laronne Ben-Itzhak
Avi Lavi Shira Rubin
Guy Sisma - Vantora Keren Stimler
Miriam Trainic


Hila Shochat