Sustained investment in all science is crucial to our societal and economic advancement. In particular, the geosciences contribute to jobs and innovation, create the foundation for our nation’s economic activity, reduce the impacts of natural hazards, support public health, and help us understand the world we live in and our connection to it.
The nation’s economy has prospered, with geosciences research providing our nation with the capability for efficient extraction of natural resources, reliable weather forecasts that enable safe air travel and efficient shipping, and the provision of clean drinking water. Our future depends on continuing this legacy of scientific inquiry and research in the geosciences. For example, improving our skill at seasonal forecasting will help energy companies to plan for and meet consumer demand, farmers to adjust for variations in seasonal rainfall, and cities to prepare for temperature extremes. Furthermore, investments in the geosciences are critical for saving lives and ensuring the safety of our nation. For example, our ability to predict the weather is based on geosciences research. A blizzard in 1888, known as the “Children’s Blizzard,” killed over 200 people because they were caught unawares. In contrast, the late January snowstorm that struck New York and New England with two to three feet of snow, high winds, and surging tides resulted in zero deaths because of the long lead time of the warnings. Similarly, deaths from tornadoes have greatly decreased because of significant improvements in scientific understanding, technology, and infrastructure.
Steady and sustained geosciences funding will enable improved intensity forecasts of hurricanes threatening coastal regions, development of better strategies for communicating risk and uncertainty in forecasts, a decrease in the false alarm rate for tornados, and better prediction of heavy precipitation events like the one that caused the devastating floods along Colorado’s Front Range in 2013. Improved understanding of climate variability and change will help us avoid negative impacts and take advantage of emerging opportunities.
We urge you to continue our nation’s proud tradition of strong and sustained investments in the geosciences. In return, as scientists, we will continue to devote ourselves to improving the health and wellbeing of our great nation through transparent and meritorious science, advancing our understanding of Earth and our relationship with it.