Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences

The National Research Council has released the preliminary copy of their report on New Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences at the National Science Foundation, which can be read online.

NSF Earth Science Division Director Bob Detrich notes that this is the first “decadal” study of research opportunities across the earth sciences since the influential NRC Basic Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences (BROES) report was published in 2001.

The new study noted that the BROES report "described how basic research in the Earth sciences serves five national imperatives: (1) discovery, use, and conservation of natural resources; (2) characterization and mitigation of natural hazards; (3) geotechnical support of
commercial and infrastructure development; (4) stewardship of the environment; and (5)
terrestrial surveillance for global security and national defense. This perspective is even
more pressing today, and will persist into the future, with ever-growing emphasis.
Today’s world—with headlines dominated by issues involving fossil fuel and water
resources, earthquake and tsunami disasters claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and
causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damages, profound environmental changes
associated with the evolving climate system, and nuclear weapons proliferation and
testing—has many urgent societal issues that need to be informed by sound
understanding of the Earth sciences."

The new NRO study covers these topics:

  • The Early Earth
  • Thermo-Chemical Internal Dynamics and Volatile Distribution
  • Faulting and Deformation Processes
  • Interactions among Climate, Surface Processes, Tectonics, and Deep Earth Processes
  • Co-evolution of Life, Environment, and Climate
  • Coupled Hydrogeomorphic-Ecosystem Response to Natural and Anthropogenic Change
  • Biogeochemical and Water Cycles in Terrestrial Environments and Impacts of Global Change
  • Facilities for Geochronology
  • Interagency and International Partnerships and Coordination
  • Training the Next Generation and Diversifying the Researcher Community

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