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Earth Surface Dynamics

Group of researchers interpreting landscape dynamics from the top of a mountain.
Photo: Liv Heinecke, UP
Interpreting landscape dynamics in the Himalayan mountain range.

What is the dynamics of the coupled processes and cascading effects in the Earth Surface System?

This core question is addressed by elucidating the interplay between physical, chemical and biological processes near the Earth’s surface, with a focus on the flows of energy (e.g., radiation), mass (e.g., sediments) and information (e.g., genes) across various spatiotemporal scales. The state, dynamics, and development of the Earth Surface System are controlled not only by gradual geologic, biologic and climatic processes, but also by sudden transitions that force cascading effects and feedbacks. NEXUS’s goal is to decipher, resolve, and constrain the mechanisms and effects of such transitions and their complex interplay within Earth Surface System and the human habitat it provides.

NEXUS: Earth Surface Dynamics seeks to:

  • Foster synergies between the geological, biological and climate sciences necessary to advance research in Earth Surface System;
  • Integrate novel data assimilation and guided and unguided data analysis methods to better quantify changes and processes in the Earth Surface System;
  • Establish an internationally visible research cluster in Environmental Surface Dynamics;
  • Train a new generation of scientists that are familiar with and skilled in research across traditional disciplinary boundaries;
  • Project a thoroughly modern understanding of the dynamics and sensitivities of the Earth Surface System into society by means of teacher training and targeted public outreach.