Chapter 5 - GEOSCIENCES


Research in the Geosciences (GEO) Directorate seeks to advance the state of knowledge about the Earth, including its atmosphere, continents, oceans, interior, and Sun, and the processes that modify them and link them together. General objectives of this research are

Education and Outreach Activities

In addition to research activities, the Foundation seeks to advance science and human resource capabilities. In order to promote general science literacy related to environmental and global change issues, NSF participates in the multiagency Global Learning to Benefit the Earth (GLOBE) Program. The GLOBE Program is a developing international effort that links scientists and schoolchildren through a global information network.

For More Information

For further information on GLOBE, contact Dr. Peter Wilkniss in the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) (703) 306-0892, or by Internet: pwilkniss@nsf.gov; or Dr. Patricia Morse in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) at (703) 306-1614, or by Internet: mpmorse@nsf.gov. For further information on programs in the EHR Directorate see chapter 3.


Atmospheric Sciences

Programs in the Atmospheric Sciences (ATM) Division support research that will increase the knowledge and understanding of the behavior of the Earth's atmosphere and its interactions with the Sun. Specific activities include

NSF also provides support to operate the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Upper Atmospheric Facilities (UAF), and Lower Atmospheric Facilities (LAF).

NCAR scientists conduct research in atmospheric and related sciences and work with universities and other organizations to coordinate large-scale atmospheric research projects. In addition, NCAR operates major aircraft, computers, and other observing and sensing facilities for use by universities, private research laboratories, and researchers at NCAR.

UAF consists of four large incoherent-scatter radar facilities located along a longitudinal chain from Greenland to Peru. They allow scientists to investigate upper atmospheric problems, both local and global.

LAF consists of university-based instrumented research aircraft and a ground-based Doppler radar. These facilities are multiuser national research facilities and offer educational opportunities as well as serving the observational needs of the atmospheric science research community.

Finally, NSF provides support for participation by the U.S. scientific community in scientific research endeavor, such as the international World Climate Research Program, the International Geosphere/Biosphere Program, and the U.S. Weather Research Program.

Atmospheric Sciences Project Support

The purpose of this support is to continue to build a fundamental knowledge base about the Earth's atmospheres as well as other planets and the Sun. Specific objectives are

Areas of Research

Eligibility

Proposals may be submitted by academic institutions, nonacademic and private research organizations, nonprofit and profit-making research organizations, and individuals. Occasionally NSF will sponsor efforts by other Government agencies, particularly for field programs.

Target Dates

Proposals may be submitted at any time during the year for all programs except those involving the allocation of observational and computing facilities, and those to the Climate Dynamics Program, which has established target dates. For science projects that plan to use lower atmospheric observing facilities and/or large amounts of computing resources (100 General Accounting Units or greater), a facilities request is also required. Proposals should be submitted to the appropriate NSF program and should follow the guidelines printed in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (NSF 95-27), and facility requests should be sent to the manager of the facility or facilities. Procedures for requesting a facility are established by the providing institution.

The target dates for science proposals related to facilities and/or computer use are December 15 and June 15.

It is important for institutions submitting a request for facility support to seek advice from the Lower Atmospheric Facilities manager at NSF. Contact the Division Director for the Scientific Computing Division at NCAR for questions on computing proposals. Target dates for submission of facility requests are June 15 and December 15. Computing requests have target dates of July 16 and January 5.

Target dates for proposal submission for the Climate Dynamics Program are May 1, August 1, and December 1. It normally takes six months to review and process proposals.

For More Information

For further information, contact the Division of Atmospheric Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 775, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306- 1520.

National Center for Atmospheric Research

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which is funded by NSF, is a focal point for research in the field of atmospheric sciences. NCAR is located in Boulder, Colorado, and has about 750 scientists and support personnel.

NCAR is managed under a cooperative agreement between the Foundation and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a nonprofit consortium of 61 North American universities with graduate programs in atmospheric sciences.

Available to university and other scientists, as well as NCAR scientific personnel, the facilities at NCAR serve the entire atmospheric sciences research community and part of the ocean sciences community. These facilities include a computing center that provides supercomputer resources and services for the development and production of large models and for archiving, manipulating, and visualizing large data sets. Information on other NCAR facilities is included in the "Lower Atmospheric Facilities" section.

NCAR scientists conduct research in the atmospheric and ocean sciences areas and on solar astronomy, and are involved with large research programs in collaboration with many institutions. Criteria for the selection of research programs are scientific merit, potential for progress, appropriateness for a national center, responsiveness to and fit with university activities, and relevance to society's needs.

NCAR research programs focus on the following areas: large-scale atmospheric and ocean dynamics that contribute to an understanding of the past and present climate processes and global change, including interactions with other environmental systems; global and regional atmospheric chemistry including geochemical and biogeochemical cycles; the variable nature of the Sun and the physics of the corona; the physics of clouds, thunderstorms, precipitation formation, and the interactions and effects on larger-scale weather; and the examination of human society's impact on and response to global environmental change. In addition, NCAR provides fellowships for visiting scientists to conduct research and interact with NCAR scientists.

Eligibility

Facility and visiting scientist support is provided on a competitive basis to qualified scientists according to scientific merit, available facility time, and level of resources.

For More Information

For further information, contact the Director, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, Colorado 80307.

Upper Atmospheric Facilities

NSF supports four large incoherent-scatter radar and optical facilities located along a longitudinal chain from Greenland to Peru. In response to a need for more understanding of global-scale thermospheric and ionospheric problems, these facilities have been upgraded and realigned into a chain extending from the polar cap to the magnetic equator.

The major goal of the Upper Atmospheric Facilities (UAF) Program is to promote basic research on the structure and dynamics of Earth's upper atmosphere.

The UAF Program supports the following:

Eligibility

UAF facilities are available on a competitive basis to all qualified scientists. Use is based on the scientific merit of the proposed research, the capabilities of the radars to carry out the proposed observations, and whether the facility is available during the requested time period.

For More Information

For further information, contact the following:

Lower Atmospheric Facilities

Through NCAR and several universities, NSF supports multiuser national research facilities that offer educational opportunities and serve the observational needs of the entire atmospheric science research community.

Specifically, NSF's Lower Atmospheric Facilities (LAF) support the following:

Aircraft--Located at NCAR, a four-engine Lockheed Electra, a four-engine Lockheed EC-130Q Hercules, and a General Dynamics WB-57F; at the University of Wyoming, a Beech King Air; and at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, an armored T-28. These aircraft can be equipped with sensors to measure meteorological and chemical state parameters including temperature, pressure, dewpoint, winds, and ozone. In addition, a variety of other instruments can be selected for a particular project, or, in many cases, users may supply their own specialized instrumentation.

Radar--NCAR is equipped with (1) an airborne X-band--a dual beam, rapid conical-scanning multiple-frequency radar that is mounted on NCAR's Electra aircraft; (2) a portable ground- based radar; and (3) a multiparameter S/X-band radar that can transmit horizontal and vertical polarization on a pulse-to-pulse basis to provide co-polar (CDR and Phi-dp) data at 10cm.

Colorado State University is equipped with a transportable CSU S-band radar that provides two complete transmit and receive channels to produce simultaneous measurements of horizontal and vertical polarization. (NCAR's multiparameter radar also operates at dual wavelengths and can provide depolarization data at 3 cm.) All of these are available for atmospheric research, and all are Dopplerized and can provide measurements of equivalent radar reflectivity factor, mean radial velocity, and spectrum width.

Other Facilities--At NCAR's Atmosphere-Surface Turbulent Exchange Research Facility, research focuses on the structure of the atmosphere's surface layer and provides measurements from surface fluxes of trace chemical species, water vapor, sensible heat, and momentum.

Several systems are available from NCAR that can measure the vertical profile of temperature, moisture, pressure, and winds in the troposphere. These include a surface balloon-borne Cross-chain Loran Atmospheric Sounding System (CLASS); a dropwindsonde system that may be launched from most of the LAF aircraft; and an Integrated Sounding System (ISS). The ISS combines a complete surface meteorological observing station with a Loran- or Omega- tracked balloon system and a radar profiler at 915 megahertz for high-resolution winds in the lower troposphere. This is supplemented with a Radio-Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) for virtual temperature and moisture profiles in the lower one to three kilometers. The ISS sensors are connected to an integrated data storage, display, and transmission system that readily accepts additional complementary sensors.

Eligibility

The Lower Atmospheric Facilities are available on a competitive basis to all qualified scientists. Use is based on the scientific merit of the proposed research, the capabilities of the facilities to carry out the proposed observations, and whether the facility is available during the requested time period.

For More Information

For further information, contact the following:


Earth Sciences

The Earth Sciences (EAR) Division supports the following programs.

Earth Sciences Project Support

These programs support proposals for research geared toward improving the understanding of the structure, composition, and evolution of the Earth and the processes that govern the formation and behavior of the Earth's materials. The results of this research will create a better understanding of the Earth's changing environments and the natural distribution of its mineral, water, and energy resources, and provide methods for predicting and mitigating the effects of geologic hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Programs offering research support are grouped under two headings: Core Research Support and Special Emphasis Areas.

Core Research Support

The Foundation supports the best research proposals received in any area of geology, geophysics, geochemistry, paleobiology, and hydrology, including interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary proposals that may involve one or more of these disciplines. Especially welcome are proposals for research in newly emerging areas of science that may not fit easily into one of these categories. For convenience in proposal evaluation, proposals received are assigned to one of the six individual programs listed below or to the Continental Dynamics or Instrumentation and Facilities Programs, if appropriate. The titles of these programs indicate in general terms the subject matter covered by each, although they should be considered very broad and not necessarily restricted to their specified discipline of science. The programs in the Core Research Support area are:

Special Emphasis Areas

Within the Earth Sciences (EAR) Division, certain research areas may be selected for special emphasis or on the basis of special scientific opportunities. Frequently these are related to areas of national priority such as the Environment and Global Change Research Program and the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program.

The following is a list of current Special Emphasis Areas and the publication number for the corresponding program announcement. These announcements contain further information such as special evaluation criteria beyond the general Foundation requirements.

Eligibility

Proposals will be accepted from colleges, universities, and other institutions in the United States with formal research programs in the earth sciences. Proposals may involve individual scientists or be a collaborative effort of associated researchers working on coordinated projects.

The annual deadlines for receipt of proposals are June 1 and December 1.

For More Information

For further information, contact the Division of Earth Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 785, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1550.

Continental Dynamics

This program supports multidisciplinary research that will result in a better understanding of the processes that govern the origin, structure, composition, and dynamical evolution of the continents and continental building blocks. This program is especially geared toward projects whose scope and complexity require a cooperative or multiinstitutional approach and multiyear planning and execution. It is intended that the program fund only relatively large projects that do not fit easily within Earth Sciences Project Support and that have broad support of major sections of the earth sciences community. The program also funds research as part of the interagency Continental Scientific Drilling and Exploration Program.

Eligibility

Proposals may be submitted by academic institutions and nonprofit research organizations.

Deadlines

Preliminary proposals are due December 1; formal proposals are due June 1.

For More Information

For further information, contact the Division of Earth Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 785, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1559.

Instrumentation and Facilities

This program supports the acquisition or upgrade of equipment required for research, the development of new instrumentation and techniques that extend current research capabilities in the earth sciences, the operation of multiuser regional or national facilities that provide access to complex and expensive instrument systems for a significant segment of the earth sciences research community, and the funding of research technicians.

Eligibility

Proposals may be submitted by academic institutions and nonprofit research organizations.

Deadlines

Proposals to the Instrumentation and Facilities Program may be submitted at any time throughout the year.

For More Information

For further information, contact the Division of Earth Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 785, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1558.


Ocean Sciences

The Ocean Sciences (OCE) Division supports research that will create a better understanding of the ocean and ocean basins. Research programs support individual scientists, small groups of cooperating scientists, and some large coordinated projects. The Division of Ocean Sciences also supports efforts to develop, acquire, and operate instruments and facilities needed to carry out these research programs.

Ocean Sciences Research

Support is provided for research in the areas of biological, geological, physical, and chemical processes in the ocean and ocean technology that will advance our knowledge in the ocean sciences and apply this knowledge toward national needs.

The target dates for unsolicited proposals are February 15 and August 15; however, there are frequent announcements of opportunities to participate in global change research programs.

Proposals requiring the use of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) ships (see "Oceanographic Centers and Facilities" below) must be submitted by the February 15 target date so that timely decisions can be made on ship support and schedules.

Areas of Research

Oceanographic Centers and Facilities

The NSF supports construction, conversion, acquisition, and operation of major shared-use oceanographic facilities. The University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) schedules these facilities and expeditionary programs.

This program supports expensive facilities that are necessary for NSF-funded research and training of oceanographers. Examples of these facilities are ships, submersibles, large shipboard equipment, and shared-use instruments to collect and analyze data.

The Foundation encourages local contributions from non-Federal funds; however, there is no fixed requirement for institutional contributions.

Eligibility

Support for major oceanographic facilities is concentrated at institutions that have substantial research programs in oceanography in addition to supporting the research projects of other institutions. Before submitting a proposal for support under this program, institutions should seek advice from the Oceanographic Centers and Facilities Section. Specific instructions on how to submit proposals for ship operations, technicians, shipboard equipment, and oceanographic instrumentation can be found in the publication Oceanographic Centers and Facilities Section (NSF 94-124).

Deadlines and Target Dates

Proposals for ship operations and technicians are due October 1 of each year. Proposals for shipboard equipment and oceanographic instrumentation are due September 1 of each year. Proposals requesting support for other activities may be submitted at any time.

For More Information

For further information, contact the Oceanographic Centers and Facilities Section, Division of Ocean Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 725, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1576.

Ocean Drilling Program

The Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) explores, on a global scale, the Earth's crust beneath the ocean in order to learn more about the composition, structure, and history of the submerged portion of the Earth's surface. The drilling process involves logging and collecting geologic samples from the floor of deep ocean basins through rotary coring and hydraulic piston coring. The logs and samples of the cores are available to qualified scientists throughout the world for research projects.

ODP Operations

The drilling program has taken samples at sites in the North Atlantic Ocean, Norwegian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, southern and equatorial Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean off the west coast of South America, Weddell Sea off Antarctica, Indian Ocean, and western and equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The general contractor for the overall management and operation of the ODP is Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (JOI), a consortium of major U.S. oceanographic institutions. The drilling operations are managed by Texas A&M University; logging is managed by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, located at Columbia University.

U.S. Science Support

NSF provides funding for the participation and drilling-related research performed by U.S. scientists. Activities include:

In addition, NSF will consider proposals for studies that lead to a long-range definition of future drilling objectives. To be considered for support, proposed projects should be clearly relevant to the drilling plans of the international drilling community and focus on predrilling or drilling-concurrent activities. Postcruise studies should generally be submitted through other appropriate NSF programs such as Ocean Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Polar Programs.

Additional support for U.S. scientists may be obtained through the JOI U.S. Science Advisory Committee (USSAC). This NSF-sponsored program consists of the following elements.

In addition, requests for proposals may be issued for other surveys, regional and topical syntheses of existing data, and the development of downhole tools and instrumentation as these tasks are identified.

For More Information

For further information, contact the Ocean Drilling Program, Oceanographic Centers and Facilities Section, Division of Ocean Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 725, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1581.

Proposals for drilling specific sites should be submitted to the JOIDES Planning Committee Chairman, c/o Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc., 1755 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20036, (202) 232-3900.

Applications for scientific participation aboard a ship should be submitted to the Manager of Science Operations, Ocean Drilling Program, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3469. Appropriate support may be provided by JOI-USSAC.

Send requests for data and samples of core material to the Curator, Ocean Drilling Program, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3469.

Information regarding logs and the logging program may be obtained from the Borehole Research Group, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York 10964.

Proposals for planning activities and workshops may be submitted to the JOI-USSAC Chairman, c/o Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc., 1755 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20036.