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    NCED 2011 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2011-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    Civilization, by its very nature, has involved reshaping the natural environment to fit human needs. We have altered landscapes and ecosystems to enhance food supplies, reduce exposure to natural dangers, and promote commerce. We have converted approximately fifty percent of the world’s surface to grazed or cultivated cropland. We have built dams to control rivers for hydropower, irrigation, and flood mitigation. Nearly six times more water is now held in storage than occurs in free-flowing rivers. Climate change and a growing imbalance among freshwater supply, consumption, and population have dramatically altered the hydrologic cycle, a situation that will only intensify over the next century. During its nine-year tenure, NCED has ushered in a new investigational paradigm in understanding landscape dynamics and their response to change. Through the integration of geomorphology, ecology, hydrology, sedimentary geology, engineering, social sciences, and geochemistry and the synergistic combination of field investigations, physical experiments, and computational models, NCED has facilitated the development of a quantitative, predictive Earth-surface science. It is a paradigm shift that will enable us to address the challenges of the future and provide science-based solutions for adaptation and mitigation of environmental change. Our mission: to understand the dynamics of the coupled processes that shape the Earth’s surface—physical, biological, geochemical, and anthropogenic—and how they will respond to climate, land-use, and management change. To use this knowledge to deliver the science-based solutions necessary for addressing environmental change.
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    NCED 2010 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2010-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    Our research is unified by a focus on a fundamental component of the Earth-surface system—channel networks and their surroundings—that recurs in varying but fundamentally related forms across a wide range of environments and scales. Our three research initiatives (“Integrated Programs” or “IPs”) approach channel networks from a source-to-sink perspective, looking at watersheds (Watersheds), individual stream reaches (Streams), and depositional systems (Deltas). Our community engagement activities are led by our Education, Diversity, and Knowledge Transfer Integrated Programs. These three initiatives work in parallel with the research IPs to educate a diverse audience (K-12 students, teachers, and the public) about the importance of understanding and managing the Earth’s surface environment. We transfer our scientific knowledge to practice, foster synergistic collaboration with other community initiatives, and increase participation in science among under-represented groups, with a special focus on Native American communities.
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    NCED 2009 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2009-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    The above overarching question drives the research of the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED), a Science and Technology Center established in 2002 with the unifying goal of predicting the coupled dynamics and coevolution of landscapes and their ecosystems, in order to transform management and restoration of the Earth-surface environment. Driven by our overarching scientific goal, NCED tackles three grand challenges: (1) Developing a mechanistic understanding of the erosional and depositional processes that shape landscapes; (2) Discovering the linkages between physical, chemical, and biological processes; and (3) Using the understanding of landscape and ecosystem dynamics to guide management decisions. To address its overarching goal, NCED’s research has been organized into three Integrated Programs (IPs) each focusing on a major landscape component: watersheds (Desktop Watersheds IP), individual stream reaches (Stream Restoration IP), and deltas (Subsurface Architecture IP). All three IPs involve issues of human impact, management, and restoration and embrace a two-way collaboration between those developing knowledge and those applying it. NCED’s initiatives on Knowledge Transfer, Education, and Diversity cut across the three research IPs, and all together form a tight nexus that uniquely characterizes NCED’s approach to societally relevant scientific discoveries (See Figure 1). This section puts the results reported in the main body of this Annual Report in the context of NCED’s overarching scientific goal and its Strategic and Implementation Plan (SIP). We start by a summary of Program level accomplishments, followed by community level accomplishments and finish by discussing the Center’s accomplishments in developing NCED’s Legacies.
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    NCED 2008 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2008-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    There are three levels from which to view the changes in Earth-surface dynamics since NCED began operation in 2002. In order of decreasing scale, these are community level, center level, and project level. NCED’s purpose, leading off our Strategic and Implementation Plan (SIP), is to catalyze development of an integrated, predictive science of the processes shaping the surface of the Earth. The last six years have seen explosive growth in transdisciplinary, community-level organizations and initiatives in Earth-surface science; we know of no comparable period in history. We do not claim that this is entirely because of NCED, but NCED has certainly been right in the thick of the change. In addition to our direct involvement in the major initiatives listed below, the presence of a high-profile, energetic, and long-lived organization like NCED has greatly increased the momentum: by providing an organizing center, a launching pad, and examples of what could be accomplished through sustained, collaborative, transdisciplinary research.
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    NCED 2007 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2007-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    NCED’s unifying scientific goal is expressed in our Statement of Purpose (“vision statement”): to catalyze development of an integrated, predictive science of the processes shaping the surface of the Earth, in order to transform management of ecosystems, resources, and land use. The two key words in this expression are integrated and predictive. NCED arose out of a consensus that progress in predicting the so-called critical zone—essentially, the near-surface environment—was being impeded by a stifling combination of disciplinary fragmentation (eg, geomorphology, ecology, hydrology, geochemistry, social sciences) and a tradition of descriptive science in some of the key disciplines. NCED is the first federally funded center specifically focused on integrated, predictive critical-zone science. Our PI group represents all of these major earthsurface disciplines. What binds us together, beyond a common interest in the Earth-surface environment, is a commitment to collaborating across our disciplinary specializations to reach our goal of critical-zone prediction. The practical side of our goal is restoration. Restoring environmental function, by its very nature, is based on prediction—what will be the outcome of a particular course of action (changing land use, modifying the form of a river channel, breaching a levee)? Currently, restoration—the most prominent facet of environmental management—is often done using “seat of the pants” methods with little or no scientific basis. Replacing that with an approach based on analysis and prediction would truly transform the way we manage the Earth-surface environment. Apart from the renewal of NCED, carrying with it a national commitment to Earth-surface science, we note with pleasure that 2006 brought the realization of two major programs whose creation we have enthusiastically supported. The first is the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) project, which aims to develop a coherent modeling framework for predicting the evolution of the Earth’s surface. It will be the first of its kind in the world. CSDMS is the brainchild of James Syvitski of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado, who is the founding director. CSDMS focuses on modeling, emphasizing large-scale modular numerical modeling, and thus nicely complements NCED, which focuses on process understanding and initial algorithm development. We hosted a final “preflight” workshop meeting in December 2005 for the proposal to fund the CSDMS, which was submitted in February 2006. Now that CSDMS is funded, we have plans in place to cement this close relationship via a postdoctoral research associate—and hopefully more than one in the future—to serve as a liaison and make sure that insight and information are transferred seamlessly between our two centers.
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    NCED 2006 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2006-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    The biggest change to NCED structure resulting from the new SIP is the organization of the research into three “Integrated Projects” (IPs): Desktop Watersheds, Stream Restoration, and Subsurface Architecture. The intellectual foundation of the IPs was provided by NCED research since its inception. The restructuring resulted in a major improvement in integration among disciplines and PIs, as documented below. Highlights of new collaborations include: (a) major efforts involving the Minnesota and Berkeley groups on coupling geomorphology and nutrient dynamics and on understanding variability of bedload grain size and fl ux along channels and channel networks; (b) a growing effort between the Minnesota and Princeton groups on quantifying the spatial properties of deltaic channel networks and how these can be used to predict statistics of subsurface deposits; and (c) an accelerated transfer of theoretical results to practical application related to stream restoration. A major research highlight of this year was publication of a major review (and cover) article in the Jan. 26, 2006 issue of Nature, by Bill Dietrich and Taylor Perron. It would be hard to think of a clearer expression of NCED’s emphasis on combining biological and physical processes in shaping the Earth’s surface than this study of the topographic signature of life. Examining a wide range of topographic indicators from the form of mountain ridges to river planforms, the article concludes that, beyond direct organic constructions such as termite mounds, there is no single unambiguous biotic indicator in the Earth’s topography. Rather, the topographic signature of life is to shift the frequency of biologically infl uenced features such as meandering river channels. The question of how life imprints itself on topography is a fundamental research question but also has important implications for detection of life on other planets. In addition, a group of PIs (Paola et al., 2006) provided a fi rst statement of NCED’s vision for integrative surface science in a special issue of Water Resources Research organized by our sister center CUAHSI.
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    NCED 2005 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2005-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    We have adopted a project management approach to organizing our research. Our research is focused on the core science of channels and channels systems, and supports three Integrated Projects (IPs): Desktop Watershed, Stream Restoration, and Subsurface Architecture (we also have a small number of Special Initiative projects that don’t fall under the three IPs: in these projects, NCED researchers are encouraged take risks and “push the envelope” of our core science). The IPs evolved naturally out of center-wide projects previously described as “Integrative Activities”.
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    NCED 2004 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2004-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    As the human population expands, it continues to constrain, divert, modify and, often, reverse the natural processes occurring on the Earth’s dynamic surface. It is becoming clearer that the consequences of this expansion have often been negative and occasionally catastrophic. Similarly, efforts to mitigate past depredations often either fail or engender their own set of negative consequences. NCED believes that it is both possible and desirable to live sustainably on our planet, and that a major impediment to this vision is lack of integrated, practical and predictive models for the behavior of its dynamic surface. Channels and channel systems are arguably the major influence on the Earth’s landscapes, especially those most sought-after by human populations. Our mission is to bring together the disciplines of geology, geomorphology, hydrology, hydraulics, biology, ecology and the social sciences to create truly integrated and predictive models of these channels and channel systems and the landscapes they create and maintain. Critical to the success of such models will be our ability to constrain and inform them with the full range of channel network dynamics that our planet is capable of producing. Study of the long-term stratigraphic record will provide NCED researchers with this menu of surface configurations, process interconnections, and rates of change that occur on planetary time scales. We will foster the rapid application of these advancements to land-use planning, environmental forecasting and landscape restoration efforts, and to the education of future leaders in these fields.
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    NCED 2003 Annual Report
    (National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, 2003-05-01) Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi
    Our research effort is organized into four Focus Areas: (1) Landscape and seascape evolution; (2) Depositional Basins; (3) Biogeomorphology/Ecological fluid dynamics; (4) Integration of morphodynamic processes across environments and scales. The overall goals of each focus area, the first year research accomplishments, and how they relate to the overall mission of NCED are detailed in the relevant Focus Area reports. Highlights of the research include: • Design and fabrication of new experimental equipment for studying debris flows, fluvial sedimentation, and river-vegetation interaction. 7 • New algorithms for “geomorphic transport laws” applicable to long-time scales and natural landform evolution. • New results showing scaling in vegetation of drainage basins and in hydraulic geometry. • Emerging collaborations. o Porté-Agel, Foufoula-Georgiou, Voller and Paola on applications of scaling and turbulence theory to morphodynamic modeling o Mohrig and Banfield on microbiological controls on bed evolution o Dietrich, Parker and Mohrig on terrestrial and submarine debris flow mechanics and channel formation o Hondzo and Power on fluid-flow effects on nutrient dynamics o Porté-Agel and Parker on large-eddy simulation (LES) modeling of turbidity currents o Perg and Parker on how cosmogenic isotopes record landscape variability • Progress toward choosing a common NCED research field site. Angelo Coast Reserve/Eel River system, California is the leading candidate. • Syntheses of particulate flux laws specifically adapted for morphodynamic applications (landscape evolution and fluvial transport so far, submarine transport and sedimentary basins to come this summer). • Development, with major NCED participation, of a blueprint for a large-scale community surfacedynamics modeling system to which NCED research will contribute.