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Whole-Earth Systems Initiative Is Needed, Says Report to National Science Foundation

The report says NSF needs to better facilitate convergence research—that is, research driven by a specific, compelling problem, and which integrates expertise from different disciplines to find an answer.

A legacy of low racial, ethnic and gender diversity in Earth sciences is a barrier to convergence research, according to the report. It says NSF should support programs that help improve diversity and inclusion in relevant fields, including in leadership positions, and consider diversity in determining research priorities. NSF should also put an emphasis on facilities where community members can observe research, such as field stations and marine laboratories, says the report.

As the report notes, computing in Earth systems science is changing rapidly and becoming more complex. New programming methods and models mean many research teams need a research software engineer; yet, NSF computing resources are already stretched thin. NSF should expand hardware, software, data analytics, and its skilled workforce in order to harness the computational revolution, it says.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent advice to the nation to solve complex problems, and inform policies. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Adapted from a press release by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

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