The FY 2001 Budget Request for the Geosciences (GEO) Activity is $583.0 million, an increase of $95.20 million, or 19.5 percent, over the FY 2000 Current Plan of $487.80 million.
(Millions of Dollars)
Totals may not add due to rounding.
The Geosciences Activity supports research, infrastructure, and education in the atmospheric, earth, and ocean sciences. GEO is the principal source of federal funding for university-based basic research in the geosciences, providing over half of the total support in this area. GEO plays a critical role in addressing the nation's need to understand, predict and respond to environmental events and changes and to use Earth's resources wisely. Fundamental research in the geosciences advances scientific knowledge of Earth's environment, including resources such as water, energy, minerals, and biological diversity. GEO-supported activities also advance our ability to predict natural phenomena of economic and human significance, such as climate change, earthquakes, weather, fish-stock fluctuations, and disruptive events in the solar-terrestrial environment.
Three goals guide GEO's activities:
People are NSF's most important product. At NSF, placing research and learning hand in hand is our highest priority, and the people involved in our projects represent both the focus of our investments and the most important products of them. Across its programs, GEO provides support for over 10,000 people, including teachers, students, researchers, post-doctorates, and trainees. Support for programs specifically addressing NSF's Strategic Goal of "People -- A diverse, internationally competitive and globally-engaged workforce of scientists, engineers and well-prepared citizens" totals more than $18 million in FY 2001, an increase of 25.2 percent over FY 2000. Moreover, almost 40 percent of the funding for research grants --an amount approaching $130 million in FY 2001-- provides support for researchers and students, including almost 4,000 post-doctorates, trainees, and graduate and undergraduate students.
GEO actively participates in and contributes to the Foundation's four initiative areas: Biocomplexity in the Environment, Information Technology Research, Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and 21 st Century Workforce.
Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE) includes a set of coordinated activities in environmental science, engineering and education which advance scientific knowledge about the connection between the living and non-living Earth system. The geosciences are inherently related to the function of the interrelated systems which compose the environment in which we live, and are therefore directly linked to the study of BE. GEO will provide $39.50 million in FY 2001 for focused Biocomplexity studies. These funds will enable the initiation and/or enhancement of several interdisciplinary activities within GEO.
Information Technology Research (ITR) In FY 2001, GEO will provide $16.60 million to support focused information-based activities. Highlights include:
Nanoscale Science and Engineering In FY 2001, GEO will support the Nanoscale Science and Engineering initiative at a level of $7.84 million, a $1.84 million increase over FY 2000. FY 2001 activities will focus on recognizing and observing organisms at the sub-micron scale and the development of new field and laboratory instrumentation. Enhanced instrumentation will be utilized to characterize the chemical composition and physical/chemical properties of molecular clusters, ultrafine and fine aerosol particles, and the gaseous precursors and reactants which influence nucleation. Advanced laboratory equipment for nanoscale analyses will enable simulated studies of planetary interiors as well as studies on the origin and character of single magnetic domains, and the speciation of toxic metals and radionuclides in contaminated soils and sediments.
21 st Century Workforce GEO supports a range of programs which encourage innovative approaches to meeting the challenge of educating students for the 21 st century. A FY 2001 total of $1.55 million will support the Interagency Education Research Initiative, the Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education program, as well as provide funding toward an effort to initiate a Network for Diversity and Education in the Geosciences. This network, consisting of major geoscience research and education institutions, will conduct geoscience education research; develop products that reflect best educational practices; serve as an interface between the geoscience research community and the education community by making the results of scientific investment accessible; and make high-quality geoscience education materials widely available to interested constituencies.
GEO's support for ongoing and new activities contributes to NSF efforts to achieve its strategic goals, as well as to the administration and management activities necessary to achieve those goals.
(Millions of Dollars)
1 Includes only costs charged to the R&RA Appropriation.
Support for ideas spans the geosciences and encompasses a wide range of topics. Projects in Atmospheric Sciences improve the understanding and prediction of climate, weather, space weather, and the global environmental system. Earth Science research advances knowledge of the structure, composition, and history of the solid Earth and of the geological and hydrological processes that modify Earth. 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 biological production.
GEO will emphasize research on the key physical, chemical and geologic cycles within the Earth System, the characteristics and dynamics of which are of paramount importance to science and society. These activities will be complementary to, and well coordinated with, the biologically oriented studies of Earth cycles that will be carried out within the context of the Foundation-wide Biocomplexity in the Environment initiative. Increased emphasis on fundamental research on the Earth's cycles is required to achieve the broader goal of obtaining an integrated understanding of the Earth system. Representative examples of the areas of study include:
To fully understand many of the key physical cycles will require emphasizing observations, models and analysis at the interfaces of the Earth systems. FY 2001 activities will total $28.84 million.
A second area of emphasis within Geosciences will be research on natural phenomena to enable mankind to assess potential threats from a variety of natural causes and to anticipate, and thereby mitigate, the resulting loss of life, injury, and property damage. Significant advances in Geosciences research and observation have led to major improvements in the characterization and reduction of risk in the United States from natural hazards. However, in many parts of the world, infrastructure continues to develop in areas where there is minimal information on the potential impact of natural hazards. In an ever more integrated global society, it is in the economic and strategic interests of the U.S. to cooperate in observation and research to reduce global vulnerability to natural hazards. The global scale of the environmental problems being addressed, as well as the global nature of current and future observing systems, makes international cooperation logical and necessary. A more comprehensive understanding of these natural phenomena through research and application of new computational techniques will create numerous opportunities to predict hazards and mitigate impacts from processes as varied as weather extremes, geologic hazards, and space weather threats. FY 2001 activities related to natural hazards will total $56.26 million, including $11.90 million for the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP).
A third more specific area of emphasis will be upon studies of the molecular biology in the oceans. New and surprisingly dominant organisms and ecosystem components with profound influences on ecological and biogeochemical processes in the sea have recently been discovered. This effort will identify representative organisms for critical groups in ocean systems, make comparisons within functional groups to evaluate the role of genetic diversity in complex system interactions, and, having documented the complete genomes of key microorganisms, use the organisms as biosensors to understand the complexity of environment-function interactions. FY 2001 activities will total $4.35 million.
Finally an increased emphasis will be placed on the support of research activities studying long-term changes in ocean systems using sustained time-series observations. Gaining an adequate temporal perspective of the ocean's complex environmental dynamics will enable researchers to make progress in addressing many of the pressing questions in Ocean Sciences research. The interactions among the biological processes and the chemical, physical and geological phenomena that shape and change our oceans occur on timescales from milliseconds to decades and longer, and require revolutionary new research and observation strategies if they are to be understood. This activity will build upon existing programs to support sustained long-term research efforts to tackle wide-ranging interdisciplinary research problems in the ocean sciences. FY 2001 activities will total $20.15 million.
In FY 2001, GEO will continue 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. In accord with the Foundation's FY 2001 Performance Plan, GEO will continue to provide increased attention to the percentage of competitive research grants going to new investigators. These efforts will 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-supported centers include Science and Technology Centers (STCs) and Long Term Ecological Research sites.
(Millions of Dollars)
GEO supports three Science and Technology Centers:
The research agendas of the three STCs require a center environment to address the multidisciplinary and highly complex scientific objectives. Approximately 250 scientists and students use the three centers each year, with additional participants in workshops, conferences and special projects, such as visits of pre-college students and field projects. Although all three GEO-supported STCs have been highly successful, in accord with plans at the inception of the program, FY 2001 will be the last year of support for these centers.
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 represent 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 collaborative activities.
GEO places a high priority on programs to develop a diverse, internationally competitive workforce of scientists and well-prepared citizens. This emphasis helps to ensure that the next generation of scientists is adequately prepared for a future in which the borders between scientific disciplines are 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:
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 scheduled repair.
(Millions of Dollars)
FY 2001 plans include:
In addition, planning and development activities for a possible new observational facility is underway and will continue in FY 2001. The facility being planned is a portable modular phased-array incoherent scatter radar that can be assembled at a given site, disassembled, and relocated. The radar would be used extensively by the upper atmospheric research community to investigate processes associated with space weather.
Administration and Management
Administration and Management provides for administrative activities necessary to enable NSF to achieve its strategic goals. This includes the cost of Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments, contractors performing administrative functions and, in FY 2001, travel by staff in the program offices.
NSF has previously organized its budget presentation around four key program functions - Research Project Support, Research Facilities, Education and Training, and Administration and Management. In order to link the FY 2001 Budget Request to the NSF Strategic Plan, we have organized the FY 2001 Budget Request around the strategic outcome goals of Ideas, People and Tools, as well as the Administration and Management activities necessary to achieve these goals.
The table below provides an FY 2001 crosswalk for Geosciences between funding for the strategic goals and the key program functions.
(Millions of Dollars)
Number of People Involved in GEO Activities
GEO Funding Profile
1 Statistics for award size and duration are for Research Grants only.
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