11 questions for the next decade of geographical sciences identified

March 25, 2010

Eleven questions that should shape the next decade of geographical sciences research were identified today in a new report by the National Research Council. Reflecting a time when populations are moving and natural resources are being depleted, the questions aim to provide a more complete understanding of where and how landscapes are changing to help society manage and adapt to the transformation of Earth's surface.

The committee that wrote the report solicited input from the geographical science community to identify research priorities and the approaches, skills, data, and infrastructure necessary to advance research. The strategic directions span from overarching issues of environmental change and sustainability to specific areas in the field that are transforming. They are grouped by topic area, but are not ranked in any order of importance.

How to understand and respond to :

  • How are we changing the physical environment of Earth's surface?
  • How can we best preserve and protect endangered ecosystems?
  • How are climate and other environmental changes affecting the vulnerabilities of coupled human-environment systems?
How to promote sustainability:
  • Where and how will 10 billion people live?
  • How will we sustainably feed everyone in the coming decade and beyond?
  • How does where we live affect our health?
How to recognize and cope with the rapid spatial of economy and society:
  • How is the movement of people, goods, and ideas changing the world?
  • How is economic globalization affecting inequality?
  • How are geopolitical shifts influencing peace and stability?
How to leverage technological change for the benefit of society and :
  • How might we better observe, analyze, and visualize a changing world?
  • What are the societal implications of citizen mapping and mapping citizens?

Explore further: Scientists offer guidelines for coping with climate change in Alaska

Related Stories

EPA releases report on climate change and health

July 17, 2008

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a report that discusses the potential impacts of climate change on human health, human welfare, and communities in the U.S. The report, entitled "Analyses of the Effects ...

'No time to lose' to start thinking sustainability

September 19, 2008

As director of the University of Oregon's Climate Leadership Initiative, the need to address human contributions to global warming is a no-brainer that Bob Doppelt says in his new book requires a mindset tuned into "The Power ...

Virtualizing succession and sustainability

February 18, 2010

How do we as a society imagine our future? With social and natural environments changing, often quickly, it's difficult to imagine how our society might look a generation or more into the future. How can we then develop robust ...

Recommended for you

History shows more big wildfires likely as climate warms

October 5, 2015

The history of wildfires over the past 2,000 years in a northern Colorado mountain range indicates that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate, according to new study led by a University of ...

Predictable ecosystems may be more fragile

October 7, 2015

When it comes to using our natural resources, human beings want to know what we're going to get. We expect clean water every time we turn on the tap; beaches free of algae and bacteria; and robust harvests of crops, fish ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.