The NCED era has seen the ‘coming of age’ of Earth-Surface Dynamics (ESD) as an exciting new field that integrates a range of disciplines aimed at understanding and predicting the Earth-surface environment. The recognition that we have entered a new epoch of human influence – the Anthropocene – clearly highlights the importance of human actions, but equally it demands a new level of understanding of the workings of the natural environment as we seek to steer our influence in directions that are consonant with natural processes and tendencies.
The NCED2 program comprises a set of linked activities designed to make NCED2 a true research commons for Earth-surface dynamics. These components are unified by the core idea of theme years under which all NCED activities in a given year will revolve around a specific research theme chosen with input from the research community and our Advisory Board. Learn more about getting involved in NCED2 Research.
NCED2 NSF Grant Number: EAR-1246761
We propose the following themes for the first two years:
Year 1: Subsurface to surface: recovering dynamics from stratigraphic records
There has long been a disconnect between scientists studying the Earth’s past, on the scale of ‘deep time’, and those working in the modern era, typically on human/engineering time scales. A major theme of NCED, which has also found expression in recent NRC publications is the importance of bridging this gap. The idea is to use the Earth’s rich archival record of its own surface evolution and the value of that record to inform understanding of how Earth’s surface might change in the future, considering a spectrum of time scales because even short-term evolution is often conditioned by long-term trends. Understanding these natural trends becomes even more important as human influence grows. Sustainable solutions imply management over long periods, i.e., the goal is that current practices could be continued indefinitely without damaging the environment or depleting future resources. Sustainability thus requires forecasting the effects of current practice over multi-generational time scales. The only data available for testing such forecasts is reconstructions of the past behavior of the surface system.
Year 2: TBD