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Defining Research and Teaching Priorities that Could be Advanced Through a Near-Surface Geophysics Center
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  • R. Brooks Hanson,
  • Sarah Kruse,
  • Xavier Comas,
  • Kennedy Doro,
  • Tiffany Holmes,
  • Rosemary Knight,
  • Laura Lyon,
  • John McDaris,
  • Burke Minsley,
  • Isabel Morris,
  • Verónica Rodríguez Tribaldos,
  • Lee Slater,
  • Victor Tsai,
  • Chi Zhang
R. Brooks Hanson
American Geophysical Union
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Sarah Kruse
University of South Florida,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Xavier Comas
Florida Atlantic University
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Kennedy Doro
University of Toledo
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Tiffany Holmes
Fort Valley State University
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Rosemary Knight
Stanford University
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Laura Lyon
American Geophysical Union
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John McDaris
Carleton College,University of Minnesota,University of Minnesota
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Burke Minsley
US Geological Survey
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Isabel Morris
New Mexico Tech University
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Verónica Rodríguez Tribaldos
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
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Lee Slater
Rutgers University
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Victor Tsai
Brown University
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Chi Zhang
University of Vienna
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The National Science Foundation provided support to the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to engage its relevant community and help clarify the need for a Near-Surface Geophysics (NSG) Center and identify how it could advance key science questions, provide benefits for society, and develop the geophysical workforce of the future. This report synthesizes the broad input from the community. The listed authors represent the Steering Committee, led by Sarah Kruse and Xavier Comas, and AGU staff leads. They were responsible for most of the editing and connective writing. The major conclusions are: ● The capability and importance of NSG is expanding rapidly, and NSG is providing key science and knowledge to many specific scientific challenges in diverse disciplines–from ecology and anthropology to hydrology, oceanography, cryosphere science, soil and critical zone science, and more. ● This has been thanks to diverse new instruments and approaches, expanded monitoring, improved resolution, interoperable data sets, and new computing power and approaches, among other developments. ● As a result, advancing NSG is critical to addressing many societal challenges at local to global scales. Human society depends on and interacts with the NSG environment in deep and diverse ways at all scales. ● Despite these developments, integration of NSG approaches and awareness of these across related disciplines are not nearly robust enough for these needs. ● Major challenges include providing equipment and training around its use, developing and deploying new equipment and sensors, developing interoperable data, and developing computation techniques. ● In particular, educating both current researchers and developing an NSG-enabled workforce is a major challenge. ● Integrating education with societal and scientific challenges provides a great opportunity and means to expand inclusivity and diversity in the Earth sciences and to address climate justice and equity challenges. ● Thus there was a strong consensus for support of an NSG Center designed to address these challenges and needs and to foster convergent science, provide broad and hands-on educational training, and engage communities and the public meaningfully. ● We were not charged with envisioning the specific model for a Center—and indeed emphasized that the term “Center” was generic and did not necessarily imply that these efforts were envisioned to be in one location–but note that NSF is supporting important complementary facilities include the new EarthScope Consortium combining IRIS and UNAVCO, NCALM, and CTEMPS. ● In sum, we strongly encourage the NSF to take the next step in considering the best implementation model for a NSG Center that addresses these needs, enables these opportunities, and leverages and complements existing efforts.