Understanding the Changing Planet

Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences

Committee on Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences in the Next Decade

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.
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Understanding the Changing Planet Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences Committee on Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences in the Next Decade Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Division on Earth and Life Studies

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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. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations contained in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors (the National Science Foundation, the Depart- ment of Interior U.S. Geological Survey, the National Geographic Society, and the Association of American Geographers). Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. government. Supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. BCS-0631200; by the Department of Interior U.S. Geological Survey under Award No. 07HQGR0157; and by the National Geo- graphic Society under Award No. 2007-0923. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-15075-0 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-15075-2 Library of Congress Catalog Number: 2010926480 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. Cover: Nighttime lights of the world, courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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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. Ralph J. Cicerone 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. Charles M. Vest 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 advis- ing 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. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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commiTTee oN sTraTegic direcTioNs For The geograPhical scieNces iN The NexT decade ALEXANDER B. MURPHY, Chair, University of Oregon, Eugene NANCY COLLETON, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Arlington, Virginia ROGER M. DOWNS, Pennsylvania State University, University Park MICHAEL F. GOODCHILD, University of California, Santa Barbara SUSAN HANSON, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts VICTORIA LAWSON, University of Washington, Seattle GLEN MACDONALD, University of California, Los Angeles FRANCIS J. MAGILLIGAN, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire WILLIAM G. MOSELEY, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota COLIN POLSKY, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts KAREN C. SETO, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut DAWN J. WRIGHT, Oregon State University, Corvallis National Research Council Staff MARK D. LANGE, Study Director (from July 2009) CAETLIN M. OFIESH, Study Director (until July 2009) JASON R. ORTEGO, Research Associate (from November 2009) JARED P. ENO, Research Associate (until July 2009) TONYA FONG YEE, Senior Program Assistant v

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geograPhical scieNces commiTTee WILLIAM L. GRAF, Chair, University of South Carolina, Columbia LUC E. ANSELIN, Arizona State University, Tempe WILLIAM A. V. CLARK, University of California, Los Angeles CAROL P. HARDEN, University of Tennessee, Knoxville CALESTOUS JUMA, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts JOHN A. KELMELIS, Pennsylvania State University, University Park VICTORIA A. LAWSON, University of Washington, Seattle SUSANNE C. MOSER, Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, Santa Cruz, California THOMAS M. PARRIS, ISciences, LLC, Burlington, Vermont NORBERT P. PSUTY, Rutgers University, Sandy Hook, New Jersey DAVID R. RAIN, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. National Research Council Staff MARK D. LANGE, Associate Program Officer JASON R. ORTEGO, Research Associate TONYA E. FONG YEE, Senior Program Assistant vi

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Board oN earTh scieNces aNd resources CORALE L. BRIERLEY, Chair, Brierley Consultancy, LLC, Highlands Ranch, Colorado KEITH C. CLARKE, University of California, Santa Barbara DAVID J. COWEN, University of South Carolina, Columbia WILLIAM E. DIETRICH, University of California, Berkeley ROGER M. DOWNS, Pennsylvania State University, University Park JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara KATHERINE H. FREEMAN, Pennsylvania State University, University Park WILLIAM L. GRAF, University of South Carolina, Columbia RUSSELL J. HEMLEY, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C. MURRAY W. HITZMAN, Colorado School of Mines, Golden EDWARD KAVAZANJIAN, JR., Arizona State University, Tempe LOUISE H. KELLOGG, University of California, Davis ROBERT B. McMASTER, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis CLAUDIA INÉS MORA, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico BRIJ M. MOUDGIL, University of Florida, Gainesville CLAYTON R. NICHOLS, Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office (Retired), Ocean Park, Washington JOAQUIN RUIZ, University of Arizona, Tucson PETER M. SHEARER, University of California, San Diego REGINAL SPILLER, Frontera Resources Corporation (Retired), Houston, Texas RUSSELL E. STANDS-OVER-BULL, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Denver, Colorado TERRY C. WALLACE, JR., Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico HERMAN B. ZIMMERMAN, National Science Foundation (Retired), Portland, Oregon National Research Council Staff ANTHONY R. de SOUZA, Director ELIZABETH A. EIDE, Senior Program Officer DAVID A. FEARY, Senior Program Officer ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer SAMMANTHA L. MAGSINO, Program Officer MARK D. LANGE, Associate Program Officer LEA A. SHANLEY, Postdoctoral Fellow JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Financial and Administrative Associate NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Financial and Research Associate COURTNEY R. GIBBS, Program Associate JASON R. ORTEGO, Research Associate ERIC J. EDKIN, Senior Program Assistant TONYA E. FONG YEE, Senior Program Assistant vii

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Preface W e are living in an era of receding glaciers, One significant marker of the relevance of geographi- accelerating loss of species habitat, unprec- cal analysis is the growing number of scientists from edented population migration, growing other disciplines who employ geographical concepts inequalities within and between nations, rising concerns and techniques in their work, including archaeologists, over resource depletion, and shifting patterns of interac- economists, astrophysicists, epidemiologists, biologists, tion and identity. These phenomena are changing Earth’s geologists, landscape architects, and computer sci- entists. Their collective work has engendered a trans- geography—altering the character and organization of disciplinary geographical science. Understood in these the planet’s surface and the relationships that exist terms, geographical science is not restricted to the dis- among its peoples and environments. At the same time, cipline of geography; many geographers are involved, we are in the middle of an explosion in the availability but increasingly so are individuals from other scientific and use of geographical information. From the screens fields and professions. To be a geographical scientist is of our personal computers to the dashboards of our cars, to be concerned with reciprocal links between people spatial information abounds. Geographic information and nature, as well as the spatial analysis and repre- systems (GIS)—and the analytical tools for using these sentation of the flows of mass, energy, people, capital, systems wisely—now play a fundamental role in the pro- and information that are shaping, or have shaped, the vision of emergency services, transportation and urban evolving character of Earth’s biophysical and human planning, environmental hazard management, resource environment. exploitation, military operations, and the conduct of This assessment of strategic directions for the relief operations. In the years ahead, geographical tools geographical sciences reflects the rapid growth of and techniques will be of vital importance to the effort the geographical sciences and the urgency and im- to monitor, analyze, and confront the unprecedented portance of their applications. What are the most changes that are unfolding on Earth’s surface important geographical questions that deserve atten- The foregoing circumstances explain why Stanford tion, and what are some of the most promising geo- ecologist Hal Mooney has suggested that we are liv- ing in “the era of the geographer”1—a time when the graphical approaches and analytical tools for tackling formal discipline of geography’s long-standing concern those questions? How can we mobilize a community of with the changing spatial organization and material scientists to develop and use geographical perspectives character of Earth’s surface and with the reciprocal and tools most effectively to contribute to the effort to relationship between humans and the environment are understand and respond to a changing planet? These becoming increasingly central to science and society. questions are at the heart of this report. Geographical approaches and techniques alone are not sufficient to address the sweeping changes that are remaking the 1 Personalcommunication between Hal Mooney and Tom Wilbanks (verified February 12, 2009). ix ix

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x PREFACE planet, but concepts and tools of the geographical sci- ences might be most effectively deployed in the effort ences are essential components of the multidisciplinary to address major social and environmental questions. It task of unraveling the complexities of the changes is important to emphasize that the goal of the report is Earth is confronting. not to provide an overview of the geographical sciences Geographical inquiry encompasses approaches or to offer an analysis of successes and challenges. In- ranging from the scientific to the humanistic, and this stead the goal is to elucidate key contributions the geo- report’s concern with the former end of the spectrum graphical sciences can make to the task of confronting should not be seen as an effort to devalue nonscientific some of the most pressing, contemporary large-scale approaches, for the latter have fostered valuable in- scientific questions of the day. sights into the geographical diversity of the planet and The audience for the report, then, is twofold. On the human–environment dynamic. Rather, the focus the one hand, it is written for researchers and scholars on the geographical sciences comes in response to the in a position to develop and advance the geographical National Research Council (NRC) of the National science enterprise over the coming decade. On the Academies’ charge to assess the ways in which the other hand, it is aimed at scientifically literate people, community of geographically oriented scientists can including policy makers, who can benefit from an under- effectively contribute to an understanding of the standing of what the geographical sciences have to offer changes that are remaking the planet. In approach- and who can help sustain and promote geographically ing its work, the committee that produced this report grounded efforts to understand life on Earth in the did not adopt a narrow definition of science, however. 21st century. Instead, the committee evaluated various research In developing this report, the committee relied on endeavors that seek to advance applied and theoreti- NRC studies, other published reports and literature, cal understanding based on the systematic analysis or and the experience and expertise of its members. The assessment of empirical data and information. committee also solicited input from the broader com- This report is substantially different from previous munity in three ways: first, in the form of presenta- NRC assessments focused on geographical research. tions at the committee’s open meetings; second, in Earlier studies focused on the character and perspec- a public panel session at the annual meeting of the tives of the discipline of geography (NRC, 1965; Taffe Association of American Geographers (AAG); and et al., 1970). More recently, Rediscovering Geography third, from a Web-based questionnaire written by (NRC, 1997) sought to highlight what the discipline the committee, designed to gather community input of geography had to offer at a time of rapidly rising on the committee charge. The committee used the interest in geographical ideas and to consider how community input to shape its discussion of potential geography might respond to that interest. That report research questions, and the research questions that was written principally “for the broad audience that resulted reflect the themes of the input. is curious about geography’s new place in a national The committee held three open meetings. The first spotlight” (NRC, 1997: 15). was in Washington, D.C., at the National Academy of This report, in contrast, is written against the Sciences, where the committee heard from the sponsor- backdrop of the emergence of a rapidly growing, inter- ing agencies and organizations, reviewed its task, and disciplinary community of scientists that is drawing on charted a course for the study. The second meeting was a variety of geographical perspectives and techniques. in Irvine, California, at the Beckman Center, where the The approaches that these geographical scientists em- committee heard presentations from invited guests and ploy include spatial analysis (often making use of GIS reviewed the community input it had received. Between and related technologies), remote sensing, geographical the first and second meetings, the committee held its visualization, numerical and analytical modeling, and public panel session at the AAG meeting, which con- deductive analysis based on spatial data and assess- sisted of seven invited presentations (see Appendix C) ments of linkages among and between places. The and a question-and-answer session with the audience. central concern of this report is to assess how the array The public panel session speakers spanned the range of approaches and techniques of the geographical sci- of the geographical sciences and were invited for their

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xi PREFACE expertise as well as their broad thoughts on the study Steven Driever, Stuart Elden, Philippe Foret, William charge. The committee held its third meeting in Woods Graf, Carol Harden, John Harrington, Jr., Douglas Hole, Massachusetts, at the Jonsson Center, where it Herman, John Hatzopoulos, Marlene Jackson, Daryl reviewed and discussed the draft research questions. Jones, Gerry Kearns, Joseph Kerski, Miles Logsdon, The fourth and final meeting was a closed meeting at David Maguire, Richard Marston, Patricia McDowell, the University of California, Los Angeles, where the Amy Mills, Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, David Paschane, committee reviewed and finalized the draft report. Jonathan Phillips, Chris Pringle, Jeffrey Smith, Seth The committee is grateful for the input it received. Spielman, Dawn Youngblood, and Paul Zellmer. As broad as the committee’s expertise was, it could Finally, the committee and I are deeply grateful not expect to cover every area of importance to the to staff members of the Board on Earth Sciences and report. As a result, the committee requested contri- Resources of the NRC for facilitating the study from butions from several researchers to key areas of the inception to conclusion. We are particularly indebted report: Yuko Aoyama, Michael Emch, Colin Flint, to our initial study director, Caetlin Ofiesh, who was a Geoffrey Jacquez, John Logan, W. Andrew Marcus, constant source of help and encouragement during the Sara McLafferty, and Joseph Oppong. The commit- preparation of the first draft of this report. We are also tee also would like to thank the individuals who made grateful to Ms. Ofiesh’s successor, Mark Lange, who presentations at committee meetings and the AAG helped to bring this study to completion. Our study panel session: Tom Baerwald, Patrick Bartlein, Daniel directors were ably assisted by Jared Eno and Jason Edelson, Mark Ellis, Cindy Fan, Rachel Franklin, Ortego, who provided invaluable assistance on a range Geoffrey Jacquez, Bruce Jones, David Maguire, Susanne of research and editing matters. We are also grateful Moser, Laura Pulido, Doug Richardson, David Rigby, for the administrative assistance of Tonya Fong Yee. Paul Robbins, Chris Shearer, Eric Sheppard, Daniel Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to Tony Sui, and Ken Young. The committee also received de Souza, the Director of the Board on Earth Sciences many responses to its Web-based questionnaire and and Resources. His commitment to this study was evi- would like to thank the following individuals for their dent throughout the process, and we all benefited from input, as well as those who contributed anonymously: his regular participation in our deliberations. Tony Abbott, John Agnew, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, Oliver Belcher, Denise Chavez, Anne Chin, Kevin Alexander Murphy, Chair C zajkowski, Bernadette de Leon, Martin Doyle, February 2010

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Acknowledgments T his report was greatly enhanced by input from Anthony Bebbington, University of Manchester, participants at the workshop and public com- United Kingdom mittee meetings held as part of this study. Maeve Boland, Colorado School of Mines, Golden These presentations and discussions helped set the Patricia Gober, Arizona State University, Tempe stage for the committee’s fruitful discussions in the Gerard Rushton, University of Iowa, Iowa City sessions that followed. Billie Turner, Arizona State University, Tempe This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and Although the reviewers listed above have provided technical expertise, in accordance with procedures many constructive comments and suggestions, they approved by the National Research Council’s Report were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recom- Review Committee. The purpose of this independent mendations nor did they see the final draft of the report review is to provide candid and critical comments before its release. The review of this report was overseen that will assist the institution in making its published by Dr. William A.V. Clark, University of California, report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report Los Angeles, and Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Boston Uni- meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, versity. Appointed by the National Research Council, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review they were responsible for making certain that an inde- comments and draft manuscript remain confidential pendent examination of this report was carried out in to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We accordance with institutional procedures and that all wish to thank the following individuals for their par- review comments were carefully considered. Respon- ticipation in the review of this report: sibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. John Agnew, University of California, Los Angeles Bernard Bauer, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada xiii

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Contents SUMMARY 1 PART I: INTRODUCTION 5 PART II: STRATEGIC RESEARCH QUESTIONS 19 1 How Are We Changing the Physical Environment of Earth’s Surface?, 21 2 How Can We Best Preserve Biological Diversity and Protect Endangered Ecosystems?, 31 3 How Are Climate and Other Environmental Changes Affecting the Vulnerabilities of Coupled Human–Environment Systems?, 41 4 How and Where Will 10 Billion People Live on Earth?, 49 5 How Will We Sustainably Feed Everyone in the Coming Decade and Beyond?, 59 6 How Does Where People Live Affect Their Health?, 67 7 How Is the Movement of People, Goods, and Ideas Transforming the World?,75 8 How Is Economic Globalization Affecting Inequality?, 83 9 How Are Geopolitical Shifts Influencing Peace and Stability?, 91 10 How Might We Better Observe, Analyze, and Visualize a Changing World?, 97 11 What Are the Societal Implications of Citizen Mapping and Mapping Citizens?, 105 PART III: MOVING FORWARD 113 REFERENCES 125 APPENDIXES A Committee and Staff Biographies 147 B Acronyms and Abbreviations 153 C AAG Open Session Agenda and Speakers 155 xv

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