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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES IN GEOGRAPHY AT THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY Committee on Research Priorities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 00HQAG0217 between the National Academy of Sciences and U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number is 0-309-08516-0 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624–6242 or (202) 334– 3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Front and back covers: The Geographic Face of the Nation (land cover), 2001. SOURCE: U.S. Geological Survey. Cover designed by: Van Nguyen Copyright 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts and Dr. Wm. A.Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH PRIORITIES IN GEOGRAPHY AT THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY WILLIAM L.GRAF, Chair, University of South Carolina, Columbia BARBARA P.BUTTENFIELD, University of Colorado, Boulder CAROL P.HARDEN, University of Tennessee, Knoxville JOHN R.JENSEN, University of South Carolina, Columbia GEORGE P.MALANSON, University of Iowa, Iowa City PATRICIA F.MCDOWELL, University of Oregon, Eugene SARA McLAFFERTY, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign RISA I.PALM, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NORBERT P.PSUTY, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey HENRY J.VAUX, JR., University of California, Riverside National Research Council Staff ANTHONY R.DE SOUZA, Director, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources LISA M.VANDEMARK, Study Director MONICA R.LIPSCOMB, Research Assistant TERESIA K.WILMORE, Project Assistant
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey COMMITTEE ON GEOGRAPHY BILLIE L.TURNER II, Chair, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts BERNARD O.BAUER, University of Southern California, Los Angeles RUTH S.DEFRIES, University of Maryland, College Park ROGER M.DOWNS, Pennsylvania State University, University Park MICHAEL F.GOODCHILD, University of California, Santa Barbara SUSAN HANSON, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts SARA L.McLAFFERTY, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ELLEN S.MOSLEY-THOMPSON, Ohio State University, Columbus ERIC S.SHEPPARD, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis National Research Council Staff KRISTEN L.KRAPF, Program Officer MONICA R.LIPSCOMB, Research Assistant VERNA J.BOWEN, Administrative Associate
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES RAYMOND JEANLOZ, Chair, University of California, Berkeley JILL BANFIELD, University of California, Berkeley STEVEN R.BOHLEN, Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Washington, D.C. VICKI J.COWART, Colorado Geological Survey, Denver DAVID L.DILCHER, University of Florida, Gainesville ADAM M.DZIEWONSKI, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts WILLIAM L.GRAF, University of South Carolina, Columbia RHEA GRAHAM, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Albuquerque GEORGE M.HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville DIANNE R.NIELSON, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Salt Lake City MARK SCHAEFER, NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia BILLIE L.TURNER II, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts THOMAS J.WILBANKS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee National Research Council Staff ANTHONY R.DE SOUZA, Director TAMARA L.DICKINSON, Senior Program Officer DAVID A.FEARY, Senior Program Officer ANNE M.LINN, Senior Program Officer PAUL M.CUTLER, Program Officer KRISTEN L.KRAPF, Program Officer KERIH. MOORE, Program Officer LISA M.VANDEMARK, Program Officer YVONNE P.FORSBERGH, Research Assistant MONICA R.LIPSCOMB, Research Assistant EILEEN McTAGUE, Research Assistant VERNA J.BOWEN, Administrative Associate JENNIFER T.ESTEP, Administrative Associate RADHIKA CHARI, Senior Project Assistant KAREN L.IMHOF, Senior Project Assistant SHANNON L.RUDDY, Senior Project Assistant TERESIA K.WILMORE, Project Assistant WINFIELD SWANSON, Editor
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making their published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Brian J.L.Berry, University of Texas, Dallas Vicki Cowart, Colorado Geological Survey, Denver Michael F.Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara Judy Olson, Michigan State University, East Lansing Dallas L.Peck, USGS emeritus, Reston, Virginia Stanley W.Trimble, University of California, Los Angeles Thomas J.Wilbanks, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee Although the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Freeman Gilbert, University of California, San Diego. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey Preface Geography plays an increasingly important role in education, science, policy making, and government operations. The inclusion of geography in public school curricula has produced a generation of young people who are better trained in the subject than in previous years (NRC, 1997). Geography has also become a more prominent component of science as described by the recent National Research Council (NRC) report Rediscovering Geography: New Relevance for Science and Society. New recognition by decision makers of the local to global context of the issues they face has brought geography into play at every level. The refinement of geographic technology, including geographic information systems and remote sensing, has given powerful tools to analysts and decision makers that actuate fundamental geographic principles in experimental research and applied problem solving. In the twenty-first century the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) should take advantage of geographic theory and techniques, including electronic databases, new maps (to replace the original topographic maps) and application of remote sensing to resource and hazards management. In this spirit, John Kelmelis, Chief Scientist for Geography at the USGS, requested that the NRC conduct a study for multiple audiences about geography at the USGS. The Committee on Research Priorities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey was charged to identify high-priority basic and applied research opportunities in geography as they relate to the science goals and responsibilities of the USGS. Generally, the committee was asked to address the following areas of concern to the Geography Discipline (the portion of the agency once known as the National Mapping Division) of the USGS: (1) the role of the USGS in advancing the state of geographic knowledge of the discipline (geography, cartography, and geographic information sciences), (2)
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey the role of the USGS in improving the understanding of the dynamic connections between the land surface and human interactions with it, (3) the role of the USGS in maintaining and enhancing the tools and methods for conducting and applying geographic research, and (4) the role of the USGS in bridging the gap between geographic science, policy making, and management. The committee included members from a range of sub-disciplines in geography, including geomorphology, policy for public land and water, cartography, geographic information systems, hydrology, remote sensing, biogeography, landscape ecology, hazards, urban systems, social geography, and economics. The committee met four times in Washington, D.C., and visited the USGS headquarters and its Eastern Regional Center in Reston, Virginia. Sub-groups of the committee also visited the USGS Regional Center in Denver, Colorado, as well as the USGS EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As input to the study the committee reviewed the scientific literature and data, and materials from the Survey and other federal agencies. The committee also greatly benefited from discussions with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA). The committee acknowledges the many individuals who gave briefings or provided input during the course of the study (see Appendix B). The committee was most fortunate to work in a supportive NRC environment. Lisa Vandemark managed the many details that surfaced along the way. Monica Lipscomb was exceptionally helpful in this project, particularly in the assembly of the final manuscript. Anthony de Souza, director of the Board on Earth Sciences, contributed important ideas and insights, and he was a marvelous collaborator in refining the report. William L.Graf Chair
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 13 Geography and the Changing USGS, 14 Science at the USGS, 17 USGS Vision and Mission, 19 The Geography Discipline at the USGS, 23 Study and Report, 23 2 GEOGRAPHY AT THE USGS 25 Modern Geography, 25 History of Geography and Geographers at the USGS, 31 Present Geography Contributions to the USGS, 37 Summary, 46 3 PRIORITIES FOR MAINTAINING AND ENHANCING SPATIAL DATA MANAGEMENT 47 Primary Priorities, 48 Secondary Priorities, 55 Summary, 63 4 PRIORITIES FOR GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SCIENCE 65 Primary Priorities, 65 Secondary Priorities, 77 Summary, 82
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Research Opportunities in Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey 5 RESEARCH ON LAND-SURFACE AND SOCIETY INTERACTIONS 83 Primary Priorities, 84 Secondary Priorities, 91 Summary, 97 6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 99 Advancing the General State of Knowledge in the Discipline, 101 Understanding the Dynamics of the Land Surface-Human Activities Connection, 101 Maintaining and Enhancing Geographic Tools and Methods, 102 Bridging the Gap between Science, Policy Making, and Management, 105 Summary, 106 REFERENCES 107 APPENDIXES A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS 115 B ORAL AND WRITTEN CONTRIBUTORS 121 C ACRONYMS 125 D LETTER FROM P.LYNN SCARLETT 129