The committee believes that the geoengineering community faces at once a challenge and an opportunity to participate and lead in initiatives that can reconcile the often conflicting demands of GES. Efforts are needed to understand these complex systems and successfully manage human interaction with Earth’s environment.


The Geotechnical and Geohazards Program in the National Science Foundation (NSF) is advantageously positioned to play a major role in developing a major initiative in ESE with a large component for GES. An ESE or GES initiative should reflect the breadth of the issues involved and

  • encompass efforts from the nano- and microscale behavior of geomaterials to the global scale;

  • include data collection, management, interpretation, analysis, and visualization;

  • include the development of geosystems models, place-specific mesoscale investigations (Harte et al., 2001), and models to support policy decisions and adaptive management of environmental problems.

A GES initiative should also help define the design equations and approaches for Earth systems and their interactions in an effort to develop systematic new approaches to these problems. These points are discussed below.

4.4.1 The Scope of a GES Initiative

It is not possible to list every problem that could be included in a GES initiative, but it is possible to describe the scope generally and to point to a few important areas. A GES initiative should include any

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