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Open-File Report 2012–1093

Science Strategy for Core Science Systems in the U.S. Geological Survey, 2013–2023—Public Review Release

By R. Sky Bristol, Ned H. Euliss, Jr., Nathaniel L. Booth, Nina Burkardt, Jay E. Diffendorfer, Dean B. Gesch, Brian E. McCallum, David M. Miller, Suzette A. Morman, Barbara S. Poore, Richard P. Signell, and Roland J. Viger

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (18.2 MB)Executive Summary

Core Science Systems is a new mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that grew out of the 2007 Science Strategy, “Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges: U.S. Geological Survey Science in the Decade 2007–2017.” This report describes the vision for this USGS mission and outlines a strategy for Core Science Systems to facilitate integrated characterization and understanding of the complex earth system. The vision and suggested actions are bold and far-reaching, describing a conceptual model and framework to enhance the ability of USGS to bring its core strengths to bear on pressing societal problems through data integration and scientific synthesis across the breadth of science.

The context of this report is inspired by a direction set forth in the 2007 Science Strategy. Specifically, ecosystem-based approaches provide the underpinnings for essentially all science themes that define the USGS. Every point on earth falls within a specific ecosystem where data, other information assets, and the expertise of USGS and its many partners can be employed to quantitatively understand how that ecosystem functions and how it responds to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Every benefit society obtains from the planet—food, water, raw materials to build infrastructure, homes and automobiles, fuel to heat homes and cities, and many others, are derived from or effect ecosystems.

The vision for Core Science Systems builds on core strengths of the USGS in characterizing and understanding complex earth and biological systems through research, modeling, mapping, and the production of high quality data on the nation’s natural resource infrastructure. Together, these research activities provide a foundation for ecosystem-based approaches through geologic mapping, topographic mapping, and biodiversity mapping. The vision describes a framework founded on these core mapping strengths that makes it easier for USGS scientists to discover critical information, share and publish results, and identify potential collaborations that transcend all USGS missions. The framework is designed to improve the efficiency of scientific work within USGS by establishing a means to preserve and recall data for future applications, organizing existing scientific knowledge and data to facilitate new use of older information, and establishing a future workflow that naturally integrates new data, applications, and other science products to make it easier and more efficient to conduct interdisciplinary research over time. Given the increasing need for integrated data and interdisciplinary approaches to solve modern problems, leadership by the Core Science Systems mission will facilitate problem solving by all USGS missions in ways not formerly possible.

The report lays out a strategy to achieve this vision through three goals with accompanying objectives and actions. The first goal builds on and enhances the strengths of the Core Science Systems mission in characterizing and understanding the earth system from the geologic framework to the topographic characteristics of the land surface and biodiversity across the nation. The second goal enhances and develops new strengths in computer and information science to make it easier for USGS scientists to discover data and models, share and publish results, and discover connections between scientific information and knowledge. The third goal brings additional focus to research and development methods to address complex issues affecting society that require integration of knowledge and new methods for synthesizing scientific information. Collectively, the report lays out a strategy to create a seamless connection between all USGS activities to accelerate and make USGS science more efficient by fully integrating disciplinary expertise within a new and evolving science paradigm for a changing world in the 21st century.

First posted June 4, 2012

    Public Review Release—Feedback on this report will be accepted through August 1, 2012. To provide comments, please click below, then go to section marked "Offer your comments on our draft strategies":

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Suggested citation:

Bristol, R.S., Euliss, N.H., Jr., Booth, N.L., Burkardt, Nina, Diffendorfer, J.E., Gesch, D.B., McCallum, B.E., Miller, D.M., Morman, S.A., Poore, B.S., Signell, R.P., and Viger, R.J., 2012, Science strategy for Core Science Systems in the U.S. Geological Survey, 2013–2023: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1093, 29 p.



Executive Summary

Overview: Science for a Changing World—Evolving a Science Paradigm for the 21st Century

Introducing the Core Science Systems Mission

Vision for Core Science Systems

Guiding Concepts

Goals, Objectives, and Actions




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