Whole Earth Systems Initiative Needed, National Science Foundation Report Says

The report says NSF needs to better facilitate convergence research – that is, research that is specific and compelling problem-driven, and that integrates expertise from different disciplines to find an answer.

A legacy of low racial, ethnic and gender diversity in earth sciences is a barrier to convergence research, according to the report. He says the NSF should support programs that help improve diversity and inclusion in relevant fields, including in leadership positions, and consider diversity in setting research priorities. The NSF should also focus on facilities where community members can observe research, such as field stations and marine laboratories, the report said.

As the report notes, computing in Earth systems science is evolving rapidly and becoming increasingly complex. New programming methods and models mean that many research teams need a research software engineer; yet NSF’s computing resources are already stretched. NSF should develop the hardware, software, data analytics and its skilled workforce to harness the IT revolution, he says.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine are private, non-profit institutions that provide independent advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform policy. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter at the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Adapted from a press release from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

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