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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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THRIVING ON OUR
CHANGING PLANET

A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space

Committee on the Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space

Space Studies Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

A Consensus Study Report of

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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Support for this project was provided by Contracts NNH11CD57B/NNH15CO41D and NNH17CB02B/80HQTR17F0096 with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Contract WC133R-11-CQ-0048, TO#9 with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Grant GP15AP00107 with the U.S. Geological Survey. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-46757-5
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-46757-8
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Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/24938

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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/24938.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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COMMITTEE ON THE DECADAL SURVEY FOR EARTH SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS FROM SPACE

WALEED ABDALATI, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co-Chair

WILLIAM B. GAIL, Global Weather Corporation, Co-Chair

ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR., NAE,1 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Co-Chair2

STEVEN J. BATTEL, NAE, Battel Engineering, Inc.

STACEY W. BOLAND, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

ROBERT D. BRAUN, NAE, University of Colorado

SHUYI S. CHEN, University of Washington

WILLIAM E. DIETRICH, NAS,3 University of California, Berkeley

SCOTT C. DONEY, University of Virginia

CHRISTOPHER B. FIELD, NAS, Stanford University

HELEN A. FRICKER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

SARAH T. GILLE, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

DENNIS L. HARTMANN, NAS, University of Washington

DANIEL J. JACOB, Harvard University

ANTHONY C. JANETOS, Boston University

EVERETTE JOSEPH, University of Albany, State University of New York

MOLLY K. MACAULEY,4 Resources for the Future

JOYCE E. PENNER, University of Michigan

SOROOSH SOROOSHIAN, NAE, University of California, Irvine

GRAEME L. STEPHENS, NAE, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

BYRON D. TAPLEY, NAE, University of Texas, Austin

W. STANLEY WILSON, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (retired)

Staff

ARTHUR CHARO, Senior Program Officer, Study Director

LAUREN EVERETT, Program Officer

CHARLES HARRIS, Research Associate (through August 2016)

MARCHEL HOLLE, Research Associate (from November 2016)

ANDREA REBHOLZ, Program Coordinator

MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director, Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (until April 2018)

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1 Member, National Academy of Engineering.

2 Resigned from the committee on May 5, 2016.

3 Member, National Academy of Sciences.

4 Dr. Macauley passed away on July 8, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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PANEL ON GLOBAL HYDROLOGICAL CYCLES AND WATER RESOURCES

ANA P. BARROS, Duke University, Co-Chair

JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara, Co-Chair

NEWSHA AJAMI, Stanford University

JOHN D. BOLTEN, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

DARA ENTEKHABI, NAE,1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

GRAHAM E. FOGG, University of California, Davis

EFI FOUFOULA-GEORGIOU, NAE, University of California, Irvine

DAVID C. GOODRICH, U.S. Department of Agriculture

TERRI S. HOGUE, Colorado School of Mines

JEFFREY S. KARGEL, University of Arizona

CHRISTIAN D. KUMMEROW, Colorado State University

VENKAT LAKSHMI, University of South Carolina

ANDREA RINALDO,2 NAS3/NAE, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

EDWIN WELLES, Deltares-USA

ERIC F. WOOD, NAE, Princeton University

ARTHUR CHARO, Senior Program Officer, Study Director

ED DUNNE, Program Officer (through July 2017)

LAUREN EVERETT, Program Officer (from July 2017)

TAMARA DAWSON, Program Coordinator

PANEL ON WEATHER AND AIR QUALITY: MINUTES TO SUBSEASONAL

STEVEN A. ACKERMAN, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Co-Chair

NANCY L. BAKER, Naval Research Laboratory, Co-Chair

PHILIP E. ARDANUY, INNOVIM, LLC

ELIZABETH A. BARNES, Colorado State University

STANLEY G. BENJAMIN, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

MARK A. BOURASSA, Florida State University

BRYAN N. DUNCAN, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

CHARLES E. KOLB, NAE, Aerodyne Research, Inc.

YING-HWA KUO,4 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

W. PAUL MENZEL, University of Wisconsin, Madison

MARIA A. PIRONE, Harris Corporation

ARMISTEAD G. RUSSELL, Georgia Institute of Technology

JULIE O. THOMAS, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

DUANE E. WALISER, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

XUBIN ZENG, University of Arizona

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1 Member, National Academy of Engineering.

2 Resigned from the panel on June 6, 2017.

3 Member, National Academy of Sciences.

4 Resigned from the panel on September 14, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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ARTHUR CHARO, Senior Program Officer, Study Director

SANDRA GRAHAM, Senior Program Officer

ANDREA REBHOLZ, Program Associate

PANEL ON MARINE AND TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS AND NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

COMPTON J. TUCKER, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Co-Chair

JAMES A. YODER, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Co-Chair

GREGORY P. ASNER, NAS, Carnegie Institution for Science

FRANCISCO CHAVEZ, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

INEZ Y. FUNG, NAS, University of California, Berkeley

SCOTT GOETZ, Northern Arizona University

PATRICK N. HALPIN, Duke University

ERIC HOCHBERG, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

CHRISTIAN J. JOHANNSEN, Purdue University

RAPHAEL M. KUDELA, University of California, Santa Cruz

GREGORY W. McCARTY, U.S. Department of Agriculture

LINDA O. MEARNS, National Center for Atmospheric Research

LESLEY E. OTT, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

MARY JANE PERRY, University of Maine

DAVID A. SIEGEL, University of California, Santa Barbara

DAVID L. SKOLE, Michigan State University

SUSAN L. USTIN, University of California, Davis

CARA WILSON, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

ARTHUR CHARO, Senior Program Officer, Study Director

CONSTANCE KARRAS, Program Officer

PAYTON KULINA, Senior Program Assistant (through September 2016)

JAMES HEISS, Postdoctoral Fellow

ALEXANDRA C. PHILLIPS, Senior Program Assistant (from September 2016)

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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PANEL ON CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND CHANGE: SEASONAL TO CENTENNIAL

CAROL ANNE CLAYSON, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Co-Chair

VENKATACHALAM RAMASWAMY, NOAA GFDL, Co-Chair

ARLYN E. ANDREWS, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

ENRIQUE CURCHITSER, Rutgers University

LEE-LUENG FU, NAE, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

GUIDO GROSSE, Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research

RANDAL D. KOSTER, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

SONIA KREIDENWEIS, Colorado State University

EMILIO F. MORAN, NAS, Michigan State University

CORA E. RANDALL, University of Colorado, Boulder

PHILIP J. RASCH, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

ERIC J. RIGNOT, NAS, University of California, Irvine

CHRISTOPHER RUF, University of Michigan

ROSS J. SALAWITCH, University of Maryland

AMY K. SNOVER, University of Washington

JULIENNE C. STROEVE, University of Colorado, Boulder

BRUCE A. WIELICKI, NASA Langley Research Center

GARY W. YOHE, Wesleyan University

ARTHUR CHARO, Senior Program Officer, Study Director

LAUREN EVERETT, Program Officer

ERIN MARKOVICH, Senior Program Assistant

PANEL ON EARTH SURFACE AND INTERIOR: DYNAMICS AND HAZARDS

DOUGLAS W. BURBANK, NAS, University of California, Santa Barbara, Co-Chair

DAVID T. SANDWELL, NAS, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Co-Chair

ROBIN E. BELL, Columbia University

EMILY E. BRODSKY, University of California, Santa Cruz

DONALD P. CHAMBERS, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

LUCY FLESCH, Purdue University

GEORGE E. HILLEY, Stanford University

KRISTINE M. LARSON, University of Colorado, Boulder

STEFAN MAUS, University of Colorado, Boulder

MICHAEL S. RAMSEY, University of Pittsburgh

JEANNE SAUBER, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

KHALID A. SOOFI, ConocoPhillips

HOWARD A. ZEBKER, Stanford University

ARTHUR CHARO, Senior Program Officer, Study Director

ANNE LINN, Scholar

ERIC EDKIN, Senior Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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SPACE STUDIES BOARD

FIONA HARRISON, NAS,1 California Institute of Technology, Chair

ROBERT D. BRAUN, NAE,2 University of Colorado, Boulder, Vice Chair

DAVID N. SPERGEL, NAS, Princeton University and Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Simons Foundation, Vice Chair

JAMES G. ANDERSON, NAS, Harvard University

JEFF M. BINGHAM, Consultant

JAY C. BUCKEY, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College

MARY LYNNE DITTMAR, Dittmar Associates

JOSEPH FULLER, JR., Futron Corporation

THOMAS R. GAVIN, California Institute of Technology

SARAH GIBSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research

WESLEY T. HUNTRESS, Carnegie Institution of Washington

ANTHONY C. JANETOS, Boston University

CHRYSSA KOUVELIOTOU, NAS, George Washington University

DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, NAE, University of California, Los Angeles

ROSALY M. LOPES, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

DAVID J. McCOMAS, Princeton University

LARRY PAXTON, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory

SAUL PERLMUTTER, NAS, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

ELIOT QUATAERT, University of California, Berkeley

BARBARA SHERWOOD LOLLAR, University of Toronto

HARLAN E. SPENCE, University of New Hampshire

MARK H. THIEMENS, NAS, University of California, San Diego

MEENAKSHI WADHWA, Arizona State University

Staff

MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director (through April 2018)

RICHARD ROWBERG, Acting Director (from April to July 2018)

CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Administrative Coordinator

TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations

CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate

MARGARET KNEMEYER, Financial Officer

SU LIU, Financial Assistant

___________________

1 Member, National Academy of Sciences.

2 Member, National Academy of Engineering.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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Preface

This report is the final product of the 2017-2027 decadal survey1 for Earth science and applications from space (“ESAS 2017”), the second decadal survey in Earth science and applications from space carried out by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The survey effort began in earnest in late 2015 with the appointment of the steering committee to conduct the study and the appointment of its supporting study panels. As shown in the statement of task (reprinted in Appendix E), the study’s overarching task is to generate “recommendations for the environmental monitoring and Earth science and applications communities for an integrated and sustainable approach to the conduct of the U.S. government’s civilian space-based Earth-system science programs.” As discussed in Chapter 1 of this report, the interpretation of this charge resulted in recommendations that would, within known constraints such as anticipated budgets, advance Earth system science and deliver critical information to support a broad range of national economic and societal needs.

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NOTE: This report is the edited and corrected version of the prepublication report released to the public on January 5, 2018. Along with customary editorial changes, the decadal survey committee has taken this opportunity to provide clarifications to the report, including the following of particular note:

  • To better explain opportunities to address the underlying science of the seven Targeted Observables (TOs) that could not be allocated to a flight opportunity of the recommended program, the committee has added a table (Table 3.8) that summarizes options to address unallocated TOs within the recommended program.
  • Footnote “a” to Table 3.2, footnote 7 from the Climate Panel (Chapter 9), and footnote 2 from the Earth Surface and Interior Panel (Chapter 10) now address the differing scientific objectives of the panels with respect to monitoring decadal changes in sea level, which result in different measurement requirements for the same observable.
  • The caption to Figure 3.1 has been expanded to provide greater insight into the considerations that informed the prioritizations of the objectives and observables.
  • TO-3, formerly “Aquatic Biogeochemistry,” has been relabeled more accurately as “Aquatic-Coastal Biogeochemistry.”

1 Decadal surveys are notable in their ability to sample thoroughly the research interests, aspirations, and needs of a scientific community. Through a rigorous process, a primary survey committee and thematic panels of community members construct a prioritized program of science goals and objectives and define an executable strategy for achieving them. These reports play a critical role in defining the nation’s agenda in that science area for the following 10 years—and often beyond. See National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2015, The Space Science Decadal Surveys: Lessons Learned and Best Practices, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/21788.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×

The inaugural decadal survey2 in this scientific domain, published in 2007, organized its work around the overarching theme of Earth system science for societal benefit. Perhaps its most notable achievement was that the various communities that constitute Earth science, which span a set of diverse disciplinary boundaries and had no tradition of coming together, were able to reach consensus on decadal research priorities. The resulting integrated program proved highly beneficial both to the sponsoring agencies and to a nation whose needs for the information and data products derived from agency programs were accelerating rapidly.3

ESAS 2017 was sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)—federal agencies with responsibilities for the planning and execution of civilian programs of Earth observations from space. Internally, the survey effort at the National Academies was led by the Space Studies Board with the close collaboration and cooperation of the staff and volunteers at the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, the Ocean Studies Board, the Polar Research Board, and the Water Sciences and Technology Board.

The survey was carried out by an appointed steering committee, which was solely responsible for this final report, including all findings and recommendations, and five appointed interdisciplinary study panels. In addition, the steering committee was informed by several informal working groups, some focusing on specific elements of the task statement and others focusing on cross-disciplinary topics (e.g., technology and innovation) and “integrating themes” (e.g., the carbon, water, and energy cycles). This structure—one of several considered—allowed for a rich and comprehensive study process by approaching the topics in the statement of task from multiple vantage points.

Designated “liaisons”—from the steering committee to each of the panels and from each panel to each of the other four panels—helped to avoid the stovepiping of information. In addition, steering committee liaisons attended panel meetings, and panel liaisons had the opportunity to attend other panel meetings. Panels met three times during the course of the study; at two of these meetings, joint sessions with a concurrently held steering committee meeting took place. The steering committee held seven in-person meetings during the course of the study. Between meetings, both the steering committee and the panels held numerous virtual meetings via WebEx. Further information on the decadal survey’s organization is available at http://www.nas.edu/esas2017.

Much of the initial work of the decadal survey took place within the study panels. Their focus areas/themes were chosen so that together they spanned the major components of the Earth system. The panel organization, which was devised and confirmed by the steering committee early in the survey process, was also informed by community input received in the first request for information (RFI;4 see Appendix D).

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2 See National Research Council, 2007, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/11820. For a review of the successes and shortcomings of the survey, see National Research Council, 2012, Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Midterm Assessment of NASA’s Implementation of the Decadal Survey, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/13405. The growth in Landsat use is discussed in M.A. Wulder, J.C. White, T.R. Loveland, C.E. Woodcock, A.S. Belward, W.B. Cohen, E.A. Fosnight, J. Shaw, J.G. Masek, and D.P. Roy, 2016, The global Landsat archive: Status, consolidation, and direction, Remote Sensing of Environment 185:271-283. To manage its growing data archives, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has initiated a “Big Data Project” (see http://www.noaa.gov/big-data-project).

3 As inferred by the size of data archives and the number of data users and data retrievals. For example, see slide 18 in the presentation by Program Executive for Earth Science Data Systems, Earth Science Division (DK), Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, “NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program,” February 16, 2016, https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-blue/s3fs-public/atoms/files/5-Big_Data-Earth_Science-tagged.pdf.

4 The first request for information (RFI) was issued in advance of the initiation of the survey and requested community input to help understand the role of space-based observations in addressing the key challenges and questions for Earth system science in the coming decade. By design, it did not ask the community for ideas on how to address an identified challenge or question. Building on the

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×

Other considerations included the desire for a structure that was responsive to the agency missions and goals of the sponsors and consistent with the decadal survey statement of task.

The panels were responsible for receiving and analyzing community input; in particular, community responses to the survey-issued second RFI. Each panel included members whose collective expertise spanned the panel’s topical focus areas from science to applications. With input from the panels, the steering committee then developed proposed observing system priorities that integrated goals for understanding and monitoring the Earth system with those that emphasize the use of observations in a range of applied settings. The panels and their focus areas were as follows:5

  1. Global Hydrological Cycles and Water Resources
    The movement, distribution, and availability of water and how these are changing over time.
  2. Weather and Air Quality: Minutes to Subseasonal
    Atmospheric dynamics, thermodynamics, chemistry, and their interactions at land and ocean interfaces.
  3. Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Natural Resource Management
    Biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem functioning, biodiversity, and factors that influence health and ecosystem services.
  4. Climate Variability and Change: Seasonal to Centennial
    Forcings and feedbacks of the ocean, atmosphere, land, and cryosphere within the coupled climate system.
  5. Earth Surface and Interior: Dynamics and Hazards
    Core, mantle, lithosphere, and surface processes; system interactions; and the hazards they generate.

ESAS 2017 STATEMENT OF TASK

To address the elements of the ESAS 2017 statement of task, the steering committee (the “committee”) focused its work in the following four broad areas:

  1. Assessment of the past decade’s progress,
  2. Establishment of a vision and strategy for the future decade,
  3. Prioritization of science and applications targets and mapping these to an observing plan,
  4. Development of guidance on implementation of the plan specific to the requests made by
    1. NASA
    2. NOAA and USGS.

Within areas 2 and 3 of this list, the statement of task requests that priorities focus on science, applications, and observations, rather than the instruments and missions required to carry out those observations. In particular, the statement of task requests that the committee “recommend NASA research activities to advance Earth system science and applications by means of a set of prioritized strategic ‘science targets

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first RFI, the second RFI requested ideas for specific science and applications targets (i.e., objectives) that promised to substantially advance understanding in one or more of the Earth system science themes associated with the survey’s study panels.

5 Throughout this report, references to panels are also abbreviated as follows: Global Hydrological Cycles and Water Resources = “Hydrology” or “H”; Weather and Air Quality: Minutes to Subseasonal = “Weather” or “W”; Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Natural Resource Management = “Ecosystems” or “E”; Climate Variability and Change: Seasonal to Centennial = “Climate” or “C”; and Earth Surface and Interior: Dynamics and Hazards = “Solid Earth” or “S.”

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×

[expanded by the steering committee to be science and applications targets] for the space-based observation opportunities in the decade 2018-2027.” As described in more detail in Chapter 3, a “science target” is “a set of science objectives related by a common space-based observable.” The steering committee defined the observable associated with each science target as a “targeted observable.”

ESAS 2017: STRUCTURE AND KEY FEATURES OF THE REPORT

The structure and key features of this report reflect its rather detailed statement of task. In particular,

  • As requested, the committee’s recommended strategy is one that will advance fundamental understanding of the Earth system and provide knowledge that can be applied in service to society.
  • The report, per the statement of task, provides recommended approaches to facilitate the development of a robust, resilient, and appropriately balanced U.S. program of Earth observations from space.
    • Responding to task elements specific to NASA, the report provides a prioritized list of top-level science and application “objectives,” with attention to gaps and opportunities in the program of record and the feasibility of measurement approaches. Task elements pertaining to NASA also include specific requests for an analysis of the balance between major program elements in the Earth Science Division (ESD) and, within its flight element, the balance among investments into the various program elements.
    • Task elements pertaining specifically to NOAA and USGS focus on how to make existing and planned programs more effective with respect to their utility to users and their cost-effectiveness, including through technology innovation.
  • Per the 2008 NASA Authorization Act,6 ESAS 2017 arranged for an independent Cost Assessment and Technical Evaluation (CATE)7 of the major candidate investments being considered for prioritization. This analysis was performed by the Aerospace Corporation, which also performed CATEs as part of recent National Academies decadal surveys in solar and space physics, planetary science, and astronomy and astrophysics (see Chapter 3 for details).
    • To facilitate the development and implementation of its recommended program for NASA’s ESD, the ESAS 2017 committee assumed the availability of resources at the levels anticipated at the time the survey was initiated.8 It also provides “decision rules” to guide responses in the event of unexpected technical or budgetary problems.
  • The ESAS 2017 steering committee and its study panels carefully considered opportunities to lower the cost of making research-quality Earth observations by leveraging advances in technology, international partnerships, and the capabilities emerging in the commercial sector. Attention was also given to the exploitation of “big data” for Earth science.

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6 Section 1104 of the 2008 Act, “Directs the Administrator to enter into agreements periodically with the National Academies for decadal surveys to take stock of the status and opportunities for Earth and space science discipline fields and aeronautics research and to recommend priorities for research and programmatic areas over the next decade.” Further, the Act, “Requires that such agreements include independent estimates of life cycle costs and technical readiness of missions assessed in the surveys whenever possible.” See National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, P.L. 110-422, Section 1104 (October 15, 2008).

7 See Appendix B, “Implementing the CATE Process,” in National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2015, The Space Science Decadal Surveys: Lessons Learned and Best Practices, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/21788.

8 As explained in Chapter 3, NASA officials provided the survey with a budget history and indicated that large-scale changes to recent funding levels were not anticipated. Recommendations in the present report are based on the assumption that the then current budget would only grow with inflation.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×
  • NASA, like all federal agencies, is faced with difficult choices among competing priorities for investment. Within the ESD, these choices include whether to invest in the continuation of one existing data stream over another or to develop a new measurement capability sought by the research community. In developing a recommended program that could be executed within the highly constrained budgets anticipated by NASA, the steering committee and panels also faced the difficult challenge of striking an appropriate balance between these competing demands. The transfer of responsibility from NOAA to NASA for several “continuity” measurements without budget increases commensurate with the new responsibility added to the challenge.9
  • Survey deliberations benefited from a close read of several high-level guidance documents from the executive branch.10

Finally, this report would not have been possible without the assistance of the sponsoring agencies and colleagues in the research and applications community. The steering committee is grateful to leaders across NASA, NOAA, and USGS for their support of the survey effort; in particular, they provided the detailed programmatic information that the committee and panels required to understand the context for their prioritization. In addition, the decadal survey could not have been completed without the substantial and substantive work that colleagues put into the composition of white papers and participation in town hall meetings. These inputs were especially important to the work of the interdisciplinary panels whose outputs form the basis of the exciting science and applications that are the foundation of the survey’s recommended program. We would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Aerospace Corporation, which provided an independent analysis of the cost and technical feasibility of options to realize survey science priorities.

OUTLINE OF THE REPORT

This report is organized in two parts, as follows; shown in bold is the major theme of each chapter:

PART I—Report of the Steering Committee. The full steering committee report.

Chapter 1. A Vision for the Decade.

Chapter 2. A Decadal Strategy. This chapter reviews progress over the past decade, assesses emerging scientific and societal needs, and builds from that foundation to identify a strategic framework for the next decade.

Chapter 3. A Prioritized Program for Science, Applications, and Observations. This chapter describes the process used by the committee to identify and prioritize observational needs, and presents the recommended strategy to provide a robust and balanced U.S. program of Earth observations from space that is consistent with agency-provided budget expectations.

Chapter 4. Agency Programmatic Context. This chapter addresses some of the key agency-specific issues identified as being important programmatically in the implementation of the recommended program.

Chapter 5. Conclusion.

___________________

9 The present survey benefited from the analysis framework presented in National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2015, Continuity of NASA Earth Observations from Space: A Value Framework, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/21789.

10 These are discussed in Tim Stryker, Director, U.S. Group on Earth Observations Program, “National Civil Earth Observations Planning and Assessment,” presented at the ASPRS 2015 Annual Conference, May 7, 2015, https://calval.cr.usgs.gov/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/ASPRS-slides_Stryker_final.pdf.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×

PART II—Panel Inputs. Chapters contributed by the five study panels.

Chapter 6. Global Hydrological Cycles and Water Resources

Chapter 7. Weather and Air Quality: Minutes to Subseasonal

Chapter 8. Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Natural Resource Management

Chapter 9. Climate Variability and Change: Seasonal to Centennial

Chapter 10. Earth Surface and Interior: Dynamics and Hazards

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

___________________

1 Member, National Academy of Sciences.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×

Although the reviewers listed earlier provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Charles F. Kennel, NAS, University of California, San Diego, and Thomas H. Vonder Haar, NAE, Colorado State University. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.

___________________

2 Member, National Academy of Engineering.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
×

IN MEMORY OF MOLLY MACAULEY

Molly Macauley, a member of the steering committee, passed away during the committee’s tenure in July 2016. Molly was a very special person, a true friend to many of us, and a tremendous colleague to all. Her contributions, from the perspective of an economist, impacted the entire field of Earth observation. Her clarity of thought strongly influenced the early directions of this committee; that clarity was deeply missed during the remainder of our work. Molly had an unparalleled talent for voicing unanticipated perspectives that redirected discussions and brought difficult issues into instant focus. She ensured that we stayed grounded in the reality of how our work directly and deeply impacts people’s lives. She drove us to quantify that value and communicate it clearly. Her loss will continue to be felt by our entire community for a long time.

Waleed Abdalati and Bill Gail
On Behalf of the Steering Committee, Panels, and Staff

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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APPENDIXES1

A Program of Record

B Science and Applications Traceability Matrix

C Targeted Observables Table

D RFI Responses

E Statement of Task

F Committee Members and Staff Biographies

G Acronyms and Abbreviations

___________________

1 Note that Appendixes A through G are not included in the print version of this report. They appear in the electronic version of the report, which is posted as a free PDF on the National Academies Press website at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24938.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24938.
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We live on a dynamic Earth shaped by both natural processes and the impacts of humans on their environment. It is in our collective interest to observe and understand our planet, and to predict future behavior to the extent possible, in order to effectively manage resources, successfully respond to threats from natural and human-induced environmental change, and capitalize on the opportunities – social, economic, security, and more – that such knowledge can bring.

By continuously monitoring and exploring Earth, developing a deep understanding of its evolving behavior, and characterizing the processes that shape and reshape the environment in which we live, we not only advance knowledge and basic discovery about our planet, but we further develop the foundation upon which benefits to society are built. Thriving on Our Changing Planet presents prioritized science, applications, and observations, along with related strategic and programmatic guidance, to support the U.S. civil space Earth observation program over the coming decade.

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