Earth Sciences in the 21st century: A forward look

Earth from space. (Image: BGS/C.Wardle)

Many prominent geoscientists now think that a forward look in earth sciences in particular in relation to UK science strategies is a priority.

Drivers

Broad drivers for such an undertaking are to define:

  • Where are earth sciences now in the UK science agenda? Achievements, funding levels, National capability and infrastructure, student enrolment etc.
  • How well is earth science integrated into the current NERC strategy? Are our community's strengths and influence being reflected in/applied to NERC strategy? Should resources be redirected?
  • What is the long-term outlook for earth science? Changing planet, requirements for observations and modelling, infrastructure, jobs and skill requirements
  • Is current technology and infrastructure equipping to deliver the science? NERC and National Capability in Geoscience and European and International Science.
  • How can earth science be better structured within NERC and UK and also within European and international networks?

Process

Jon Davidson (Committee of Heads of University Geosciences Departments; CHUGD), Marjorie Wilson (University of Leeds), John Ludden (BGS) and Lynne Frostick (University of Hull and Geological Society, London; GSL) as representatives of a significant portion of the UK earth sciences community are co-ordinating a forward look or horizon scanning exercise, which to date has involved a web discussion forum (now closed) the outputs of which went to inform a workshop event hosted by the Geological Society at Burlington House in London, 18—19 January 2010. The event involved some 100 members of the community selected by application from the academic community, NERC, UK government and industry. Participants were tasked with discussing and making recommendations on a series of themes relevant to Earth Sciences in the 21st century. GSL, NERC and BGS personnel facilitated this event and the outputs went to form the basis of a consultation exercise, responses to which have gone to inform the compilation of the final report..

Outputs

The final report is now in preparation and a draft should be available for comment in the Autumn. The output of the exercise will not feed into any particular science review process. It should provide scientific direction that will not only influence and inform future NERC strategy, but define earth science direction for the UK earth sciences community, including industry and business, as a whole. It will also serve to inform UK policy makers of the future significance of earth science information in addressing key societal and environmental issues.

Contact

Dr Vicky Hards
British Geological Survey
Keyworth
Nottingham
NG12 5GG
Email: Dr Vicky Hards