The 2001 National Research Council (NRC) report Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science (BROES) described how basic research in the Earth sciences serves five national imperatives: (1) discovery, use, and conservation of natural resources; (2) characterization and mitigation of natural hazards; (3) geotechnical support of commercial and infrastructure development; (4) stewardship of the environment; and (5) terrestrial surveillance for global security and national defense. This perspective is even more pressing today, and will persist into the future, with ever-growing emphasis. Today's world-with headlines dominated by issues involving fossil fuel and water resources, earthquake and tsunami disasters claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damages, profound environmental changes associated with the evolving climate system, and nuclear weapons proliferation and testing-has many urgent societal issues that need to be informed by sound understanding of the Earth sciences. A national strategy to sustain basic research and training of expertise across the full spectrum of the Earth sciences is motivated by these national imperatives.
New Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences identifies new and emerging research opportunities in the Earth sciences over the next decade, including surface and deep Earth processes and interdisciplinary research with fields such as ocean and atmospheric sciences, biology, engineering, computer science, and social and behavioral sciences. The report also identifies key instrumentation and facilities needed to support these new and emerging research opportunities. The report describes opportunities for increased cooperation in these new and emerging areas between EAR and other government agency programs, industry, and international programs, and suggests new ways that EAR can help train the next generation of Earth scientists, support young investigators, and increase the participation of underrepresented groups in the field.