Finding: NASA responded favorably and aggressively to the 2007 decadal survey, embracing its overall recommendations for Earth observations, missions, technology investments, and priorities for the underlying science. As a consequence, the science and applications communities have made significant progress over the past 5 years.
However, the implementation of the decadal survey’s recommendations has proven difficult. The launch failures of two missions (Orbiting Carbon Observatory and Glory); budgetary shortfalls, the result of both diminished resources and cost growth; and new administration and congressional priorities have resulted in delays, descopes, and cancellations (in some cases at the direction of the Office of Management and Budget). As NASA responds to these and other challenges that may be encountered in implementing the survey, the committee urges NASA to continually refer back to the fundamental goal of nurturing Earth system science, to engage the broad Earth system science community, and to consider the implications of its decisions for the entire portfolio of interconnected activities and—as important—for the next generation of scientists and technologists.