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.