NCED 2007 Annual Report

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NCED 2007 Annual Report

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National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics




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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National Science Foundation (NSF)

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Foufoula-Georgiou, Efi. (2007). NCED 2007 Annual Report. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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