the NRC’s Committee on Geography of the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources and suggested that the USGS could benefit from input by geographers outside the Survey. After the study was requested by the USGS, the NRC formed the Committee on Research Priorities in Geography at the USGS. The committee was invited to conduct a study on research opportunities in geography as they relate to the science goals and responsibilities of the USGS. It was asked to address the societal needs for geographic research and the appropriate federal research role. Specifically, the committee was charged to consider the following areas of concern to the Geography Discipline of the USGS:

  • The role of the USGS in advancing the state of knowledge of the discipline (geography, cartography, and geographic information sciences);

  • The role of the USGS in improving the understanding of the dynamic connections between the land surface and human interactions with it;

  • The role of the USGS in maintaining and enhancing the tools and methods for conducting and applying geographic research; and

  • The role of the USGS in bridging the gap between geographic science, policy making, and management.

In answering this charge the committee has created a report with four dominant themes:

  1. The Geography Discipline should engage in scientific research.

  2. The geographic research throughout the USGS should provide integrative science for investigations of the Critical Zone.

  3. The Geography Discipline should develop partnerships within the Survey and with the field of geography outside the Survey.

  4. Geography should develop a long-term core research agenda that includes several projects of the magnitude of the National Map.

As a foundation for geography’s future contributions to knowledge detailed in subsequent chapters, Chapter 2 reviews the history of geography and geographers at the USGS. Chapter 3 outlines priorities for data and information management. Chapter 4 explores priorities for geographic information science (GIScience) as a means of maintaining and enhancing the geographic tools and technology of the Survey. Chapter 5 outlines priorities for research into the interactions between U.S. society and the land surface that supports it. Chapter 6 presents the committee’s conclusions and recommendations.

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