The FY 1999 Budget Request for the
Geosciences Activity (GEO) is $507.31 million, an increase of $52.2 million,
or 11.5 percent, over the FY 1998 Current Plan of $455.11 million.
(Millions of Dollars)
The GEO Activity supports research
in the atmospheric, earth, and ocean sciences. As the principal source
of federal funding for university-based fundamental research in the geosciences,
GEO addresses the nation's need to understand, predict and respond to environmental
events and changes and to use Earth's resources wisely. Basic research
in the geosciences advances scientific knowledge of Earth's environment,
including resources such as water, energy, minerals, and biological diversity.
GEO-supported research also advances the ability to predict natural phenomena
of economic and human significance, such as climate changes, weather, earthquakes,
fish-stock fluctuations, and disruptive events in the solar-terrestrial
Three goals guide GEO's activities:
GEO actively participates in and contributes
to the Foundation's three broad, overlapping themes: Life and Earth's Environment
(LEE), Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI), and Educating for
the Future (EFF).
Advancement of knowledge about the Earth
system, which includes both maintaining adequate bases of support across
all geoscience fields and identifying opportunities where more focused
support can play a catalytic role in advancing scientific progress.
Enhancement of the infrastructure for
the conduct of geoscience research. GEO will identify and make investments
in instrumentation and facilities (including ships, aircraft, computers,
radars, seismographs, and data management systems) needed to do world-class
Improvement of the quality of geoscience
education and training. GEO will advance the education and training for
current geoscientists, facilitate the education and training for future
generations of geoscientists, and enhance the general publicís knowledge
about the integrated components of the Earth system.
Life and Earth's Environment: Activities
related to Life and Earthís Environment advance scientific knowledge about
the Earth system. Because the geosciences are inherently linked to the
environment in which we live, the majority of activities supported by GEO
relate to LEE. In FY 1999, GEO will provide an increment of approximately
$34 million for activities related to LEE. (Many of these activities are
inherently overlapping and contribute to more than one area.) Plans will
Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence:
In FY 1999, GEO will provide an increment of $1.76 million for KDI.
Plans will include:
Global Change: One facet of LEE
is that many of the LEE-related activities GEO supports are components
of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). This research investment
addresses interactions among physical, biological, and human systems at
varying scales. GEOís support for the USGCRP will increase over $14 million
in FY 1999 to expand activities to address these and other Earth system
Integrated Research Challenges: The
complexity of many environmental issues requires research integrated over
disciplines, spatial scales and time periods to an extent not customary
in traditional research. GEO plans to increase support of programs that
will permit research teams to identify major scientific questions requiring
comprehensive, long-term research and to design and carry out effective,
integrated approaches to addressing these questions. Examples of such programs
include the National Space Weather Research Program, Active Tectonics,
and Water and Watersheds. Overall support for Integrated Research Challenges
within GEO is increasing by $22.24 million.
GEO supports research that contributes to our understanding of environmental
processes through extended observation and that encompasses focused activities
which enhance our ability to predict natural disasters, including those
originating from environmental or climatic shifts. Examples of such programs
include: Atmospheric Technology at the National Center for Atmospheric
Research (NCAR); coastal Long Term Ecological Research; the Southern California
Earthquake Center; and Ridge and Sea Floor Observatories. Overall support
for Environmental Observatories within GEO is increasing by $4.85 million.
Life in Extreme Environments (LExEn):
The LExEn program seeks to improve fundamental understanding of the
formation and development of life and an understanding of the physical,
chemical, and geological processes that sustain life. The study of microbial
life forms that exist in extreme conditions on Earth, ranging from volcanoes
to polar sea ice to hydrothermal vents, will provide important new insights
about how life originated and evolved on Earth and whether and how life
may thrive on other planets. GEO support for LExEn increases by $660,000
in FY 1999.
Urban Communities: Urban communities
present a unique environment in which to study interactions not present
elsewhere. An increase of $660,000 will support programs that participate
in this effort, including, the U.S. Weather Research Program, Hydrological
Sciences, and the Ecology of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) program.
Educating For the Future: Activities
related to Educating for the Future include a broad range of programs supporting
innovative approaches to meeting the challenge of educating students for
the twenty-first century. GEO plans to increase funding for EFF $1.75 million
in FY 1999; major emphases include:
Knowledge Networking: Collaboratories
link disciplinary communities, allowing the sharing of observations, tools,
and methods for analysis and prediction. In FY 1999, GEO will increase
support by $600,000 for Collaboratory efforts. It is through the collaboratory
and other experiments (such as the Distributed Climate Model Laboratory)
that GEO has begun to provide an application-driven framework for the development
of the Next Generation Internet. The early results from prototype experiments
have resulted in increased productivity and impact for the geoscience community
by enabling scientists to investigate problems of greater complexity, such
as Earth System modeling, than has previously been possible. GEO's support
for Unidata, IRIS, SeaNet, and UARC help shape the Integrated Spatial Information
System (ISIS) initiative. In FY 1999 support for ISIS will be increased
by $300,000 to accelerate this initiative's long-term goal of achieving
full and functional interoperability of geospatial information systems,
allowing transparent, platform-independent access to different data sets.
New Challenges in Computation: GEO
will increase its support by $610,000 for continued development and integration
of information systems, which enable storage and access of massive amounts
of retrospective and real time information about the Earth System. Examples
of areas that participate in ntegrated information systems research include
the IRIS data management center, the Distributed Ocean Data System, and
NCAR Data Park facilities that enable scientists to analyze, manage, and
visualize massive data sets generated by global models and observations.
Learning and Intelligent Systems (+$250,000):
The concept of "just in time" preparation of geoscience curriculum will
continue to be supported. By using the latest networking technologies,
teachers at university, and community colleges will be able to draw on
the latest data and multimedia education techniques to assemble instructional
material just prior to class. Using geoscience-wide material, the students
will be able to be presented with a view of a more integrated view of the
Earth System than has previous been possible with discipline-specific instruction.
In addition, GEO will continue to support research on intelligent systems;
systems that generate observations and model components of the Earth System
and organize this information for effective use. The emphasis will be on
development of a new generation of smart sensors.
GEOís support for education is not limited
to these programs where education is a central theme, but is inherent in
all research activities supported by the Activity. GEOís commitment to
the close coupling of education and research activities ensures that all
GEO investments contribute strongly to the development of a diverse, globally
competitive workforce, and help to ensure that all Americans have the necessary
math and science skills to function in todayís society.
Integration of Research and Education.
GEO will continue to expand programs with strong educational components.
An increase of $400,000 for the Faculty
Early Career Development Program (CAREER) to provide additional support
for young investigators.
An increase of $170,000 for Research Experiences
for Undergraduate (REU) program to provide opportunities for undergraduate
students to participate in NSF funded research activities.
Continued support for the Integrative
Graduate Education and Research Training program. This program reflects
an emphasis on multidisciplinary training in all areas of NSF-supported
In FY 1999, GEO will direct $1.0 million
to participate in a Foundation-wide inititative on Research on K-12 Education
and Training Technologies. This initiative, a partnership with the Department
of Education, will include support for efforts such as basic research on
educationally relevant technologies; research aimed at developing educational
software and technology-enabled pedagogy; and studies to determine the
most effective educational approaches and practices.
Key Program Functions
GEO supports its activities through
the following key program functions:
(Millions of Dollars)
1 Includes only costs charged to the R&RA Appropriation.
Research Project Support
Research projects supporting individual
researchers and small groups of investigators advance fundamental knowledge
across a wide range of topics. Research projects in Atmospheric Sciences
improve the understanding and prediction of climate, weather, and the global
environmental system. Earth Science research projects advance knowledge
of the structure, composition, and history of the solid Earth and of the
geological and hydrological processes that modify Earth. Research projects
in Ocean Sciences improve knowledge of the global climate system, coastal
environments, the character of the ocean floor, processes that control
the chemical composition and motion of ocean waters, and the production
of marine organisms underlying fish stocks.
Almost two-thirds of GEOís funding
is directed toward research project support in all GEO disciplinary areas.
Over 1,000 awards are made each year, with an average annual award size
of approximately $79,600 and a duration of 2.4 years. Although some GEO-sponsored
research projects represent a single discipline, a significant fraction
are multidisciplinary efforts drawing on the talents and perspectives of
several researchers, who together provide valuable knowledge about the
complex interactions among different facets of the integrated Earth system.
Priorities for FY 1999 include increased
support for the U.S. Weather Research Program, the National Space Weather
Program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and several programs
associated with the U.S. Global Change Research Program, including Earth
System History, Global Tropospheric Chemistry, and Global Ocean Ecosystem
Dynamics. Support will be maintained for ongoing programs in coastal ocean
processes and environmental geochemistry and biogeochemistry.
In FY 1999, GEO will implement efforts
to address Foundation-wide concerns about grant sizes by increasing the
average size and duration of the awards and providing more support for
researchers, with particular attention to new investigators. These
efforts will also contribute to increasing the efficiency of the Foundation's
merit review process and achieve greater cost-effectiveness for both NSF
and the university community.
GEO will also continue to participate
in a Foundation-wide Major Research Instrumentation program to support
the acquisition and development of research instrumentation for academic
institutions in FY 1999.
In addition, GEO will direct $1.0 million
to participate in a Foundation-wide inititative on Research on K-12 Education
and Training Technologies in FY 1999. This initiative, a partnership
with the Department of Education, will include support for efforts such
as basic research on educationally relevant technologies; research aimed
at developing educational software and technology-enabled pedagogy; and
studies to determine the most effective educational approaches and practices.
GEO-supported centers include Science
and Technology Centers and Long Term Ecological Research sites.
(Millions of Dollars)
GEO supports four Science and Technology
The research agendas of the four STCs
require a center environment to address the multidisciplinary and highly
complex scientific objectives. Approximately 300 scientists and students
use the four centers each year, with additional participants in workshops,
conferences and special projects, such as visits of pre-college students
and field projects. The reduction in support for the STCs is due to the
phasing down of support for the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms.
This successful STC is reaching the end of its planned life.
Center for the Analysis and Prediction
of Storms (University of Oklahoma), which seeks to develop sophisticated
computer models for the analysis, prediction, and visualization of thunderstorms
and associated severe weather.
Center for Clouds, Chemistry, and Climate
(University of California at San Diego), whose objectives include improving
the understanding of the roles of clouds and chemistry in climate change.
Southern California Earthquake Center
(University of Southern California), which has emerged as a focal point
for earthquake research in southern California. It has fostered unprecedented
cooperation among the major southern California universities, Federal,
state and local agencies, and private corporations.
Center for High Pressure Research (State
University of New York at Stony Brook), which brings together multidisciplinary
teams from universities, national laboratories, and industry to study the
effect of pressure on the properties of natural and synthetic materials.
The Center is the U.S. focus of fundamental research on processes in Earthís
deep interior, through controlled experimentation under simulated natural
Long Term Ecological Research (LTER)
sites support projects requiring long periods of study; the sustained nature
of the studies allows scientifically sound evaluations of major environmental
phenomena. The LTERs are "research platforms" representing many disciplines
that enhance our understanding of general ecological phenomena which occur
over long temporal and broad spatial scales, provide information for the
identification and solution of environmental problems, and enable interdisciplinary
In FY 1998, the GEO and BIO Activities
are collaborating to establish one new LTER site that focuses on ecological
systems at the interfaces of land masses and coastal oceans (including
the Laurentian Great Lakes). This new site will expand our knowledge of
the organization and function of land/ocean-margin ecosystems, the linkages
between these systems and adjacent terrestrial and marine systems, and
the impacts of major natural environmental perturbations in these regions.
In FY 1999, GEO will increase support for this long-term project and continue
to evaluate potential new Coastal LTER sites.
The GEO Activity supports user facilities
necessary for the conduct of research in the geosciences. These include
large national user facilities such as the National Center for Atmospheric
Research and the U.S. academic fleet, and smaller facilities in atmospheric,
earth, and ocean sciences. NSF support provides for ongoing operations
and maintenance, including upgrades to existing facilities as well as regularly
(Millions of Dollars)
1Other GEO facilities
include multi-user accelerator-based mass spectrometers and synchrotron
beamlines, and facilities to support the scientific use of the Global Positioning
FY 1999 plans for Research Facilities
In FY 1999, funding totaling $21.0
million is requested through in the Major Research Equipment Account to
construct a Polar Cap Observatory (PCO). The PCO will be a state-of-the-art
radar facility with an accompanying array of optical and radiowave remote
sensing instruments for observing and measuring changes in Earthís upper
atmosphere and near-space environment. In FY 1998, GEO is supporting up
to $5.0 million in generic design and engineering studies related to the
PCO. The PCO will complement ongoing programs in the Arctic which includes
support for a wide array of ground-based facilities in Alaska, Northern
Canada, and Greenland, studies of arctic ocean processes, and inquiries
into the process of glaciation.
Continued operation and maintenance of
observational and computer facilities at the National Center for Atmospheric
Research (NCAR). NCAR is a world center for atmospheric research, and maintains
an active visiting scientist program. The facilities available to university,
NCAR, and other scientists include supercomputers, instrumented research
aircraft and ground-based portable observing systems. Since its creation
in 1960, more than 33,000 people from 250 institutions across the country
and around the world have visited NCAR and used its facilities. In FY 1998,
more than 1,500 researchers and students will use the facilities, and approximately
150 visiting scientists will stay for extended periods.
In FY 1999 NCAR will focus on: 1) global
change research, including climate system modeling and the operation of
the computation facilities for the Climate Simulation Laboratory; 2) the
U.S. Weather Research Program and the National Space Weather Program which
aim to achieve a better understanding and improved predictive capability
of costly and disruptive storms on Earth and in space; and 3) continued
support and development of observational and computational capabilities.
In addition, the primary building housing NCAR will begin a three-year
refurbishment; FY 1999 support for the refurbishment will be at least $2.0
Maintaining support for multi-user atmospheric
facilities including observatories in Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, Greenland,
and Peru; aircraft and radar facilities at universities; and facilities
for disseminating atmospheric data to university research and education
programs. These facilities are critical to ground-based studies of the
atmosphere and Earthís nearby space environment (geospace).
Support for infrastructure associated
with the Ocean Drilling Program including operation of the JOIDES Resolution.
In FY 1998, the JOIDES Resolution began a mid-life refit. This refit,
which totals $6.0 million over two years, is necessary to extend the life
of the ship.
Continued support for operation of the
academic research fleet. Approximately 325 projects with about 2,500 scientists
and students will use the fleet's 28 ships. The projects range from individual
investigator studies of coastal waters to integrated multi-investigator
studies of global ocean processes. NSF-funded researchers are the primary
users of the ships, accounting for about 75 percent of their total use.
NSF ship operation funds support the costs associated with the use of the
fleet by these researchers.
Support for the Incorporated Research
Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). IRIS originated in 1986 to install
a global network of seismometers (Global Seismic Network, or GSN), provide
portable seismometers for regional studies, and establish a data management
system to provide on-line, distributed access to data on global seismic
activity. IRIS facilities provide rapid analysis of earthquakes, aid in
monitoring nuclear proliferation, and permit imaging of the internal physical
structure of Earth. GEO, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey,
is assuming financial responsibility for the operation and maintenance
of the GSN from the Department of Defense.
Other Geosciences Facilities support will
be maintained, including facilities to support the use of the Global Positioning
System for scientific research, and multi-user analytical facilities such
as accelerator-based mass spectrometers and synchrotrom beamlines.
The reduction in Multi-User Atmospheric
Facilities in FY 1999 results from a one-time addition of up to $5 million
for Polar Cap Observatory research and development activities in FY 1998.
Education and Training
GEO places a high priority on programs
for education, training, and human resource development. This emphasis
helps to ensure that the next generation of scientists is adequately prepared
for a future in which the borders between scientific disciplines is increasingly
blurred, and that is increasingly dependent on technology and on the sharing
and analyzing of information utilizing currently-emerging technologies.
This emphasis on education and training also aids in the development of
a scientifically and technologically literate populace.
(Millions of Dollars)
Examples of GEO efforts to integrate
research and education throughout its activities include:
Administration and Management
Integrative Graduate Education and Research
Training Program -- In FY 1999, $1.0 million will be directed to support
this continuing cross-Foundation program for graduate traineeships. The
program reflects an emphasis on multidisciplinary training in all areas
of NSF-supported research.
Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric
Research and Science (SOARS), which brings ethnically diverse students
from groups underrepresented in the atmospheric sciences into careers in
atmospheric and related sciences. Students participate in scientific research
with a mentor from NCAR or the University Consortium for Atmospheric Research
(UCAR) and are supported at their home institution during the academic
year. The goal is to graduate these students with Masters of Science (MS)
degrees. It is expected that a significant number will continue on to Ph.D.
programs in atmospheric sciences and ultimately to careers in the field.
Continued involvement in the Model Institutions
for Excellence program which enhances the capabilities of a small number
of minority institutions that are poised to make a substantial contribution
to the nationís goal of increasing the number of minorities who enter the
science, engineering and mathematics fields. The program seeks to increase
the number of minorities earning undergraduate degrees in these fields
and encourages students to go on to pursue doctoral degrees. Areas of emphasis
include academic enrichment, early research experience, and mentoring.
The administration and management key
program function includes the cost of Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments
and contractors performing administrative functions.