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USGS has a clear role to play in improving scientific understanding of key processes in the hydrologic cycle such as evapotranspiration. Evaluations of hydrologic response to climate conditions, such as a recently started study of the Delaware River basin, also will be essential to estimating the effects of climate change.
Investigations of global scientific issues require large data bases. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the United States Navy, and the USGS are working together, through the Interagency Working Group on Data Management for Global Change, to provide the scientific community with ready access to the data needed to study global change. The Working Group is designing a data base that would leave primary stewardship of most data to the scientists or agencies who collected them but enable access and integration of data bases from wherever they reside. A test of this concept will be conducted using existing Arctic data bases. The facilities and expertise of the Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center, the USGS facility at Sioux Falls, S. Dak., which has extensive experience in satellite and remotely sensed data archiving and processing, would play a major role
in this data base in managing landobservation data. Recently we signed an agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that would give responsibility to the USGS for archiving, processing, and managing land data from NASA's planned Earth Observing Satellites in the 1990's, similar to the role we have played in the past for Landsat data. Combined with other USGS geologic, hydrologic, and cartographic data bases, these satellite data will be central to studies of land-surface changes.
The activities in global change that I have mentioned represent a small fraction of the many exciting contributions that the USGS is making and will continue to make in this field. For our contributions to direct policy decisions effectively, we must continue to emphasize cooperation and coordination within the Federal and international scientific community.
Our global perspective is being altered continually by events occurring throughout the world. As I was preparing this message, another earthquake took place, one that took thousands of lives and caused great damage, and the study of which will likely occupy scientists, engineers, land-use and urban planners, and social scientists for many years to come. The magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck the Armenian Soviet Socialist
Some of the devastation caused by the December 1988 earthquake in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. (Photograph by John Filson.)
Republic on December 7, 1988, was a most tragic reminder-again-of the substantial loss of life and great economic losses that a damaging earthquake can cause in just a few minutes. The immediate worldwide offers of assistance from the scientific community were immensely gratifying. I was also pleased that the team of 17 U.S. experts who went to Armenia to assist Soviet scientists, engineers, and rescue officials was led by Dr. John Filson of the USGS and included six additional USGS scientists and technicians. They, along with scientists and engineers from the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and several academic institutions, and with financial support from the National Science Foundation and other organizations, were able to assist in assessing the earthquake and in determining the reasons for its great damage.
A great deal can be learned in the aftermath of an earthquake. Scientists and engineers, working with land-use planners and rescue and relief groups, can ascertain much about geology, land use, engineering and building design, and how to manage the response to a destructive earthquake. All of this knowl
edge can help in the future to mitigate the effects of similar, inevitable earthquakes anywhere in the world.
In an effort to address the need to reduce the risks from earthquakes and other natural disasters, the National Academy of Sciences recently began planning for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction to take place during the last decade of this century. The Decade will serve as a focus for concerted worldwide actions to reduce human suffering from earthquakes, landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions, and other natural hazards.
The USGS has a long tradition of working closely with the U.S. Department of State's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) in responding to natural disasters worldwide. We frequently have sent our scientists to all corners of the world to assist OFDA and local officials and scientists in dealing with the effects of landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. In the process, we have broadened our scientific knowledge of the Earth, a knowledge that can help reduce the probable magnitude of disasters occurring in similar terrains in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
Through these continuing international efforts and our participation in developing a national program for incorporation into the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, the USGS is playing what I strongly feel to be an appropriate and supportive role in providing earth science in service to the national and the global community.
By the time that this yearbook is published, the USGS and the National Academy of Sciences will be busily preparing to host the 28th International Geological Congress. This prestigious convening of earth scientists from most of the nations in the world is held about once every four years. This is the Olympics of the earth sciences, an event at which we have the opportunity to present papers and enter into discussions that allow us to expand the boundaries of our scientific knowledge. This Congress, to be held July 9–19, 1989, in Washington, D.C., will mark the first time that the Congress has met in the United States since 1933. The previous Congress was held in Moscow in 1984 and the next one will be held in Japan in 1992. These are important meetings-important for the scientific knowledge that is exchanged and important for the spirit of cooperation that can be achieved.
While I have concentrated much of this message on the global and international aspects of the scientific work in which the USGS is involved, those activities represent only a portion of the wide range of Survey research and investigations. The exciting technology that is being developed in advanced cartographic systems-space-age mapping for the future-creative applications of sophisticated computer modeling in solving complex problems in dealing with toxic contaminants in surface- and ground-water resources, and rapidly improving predictive capabilities in dealing with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, landslides, and earthquakes are just a quick list of some of the dayto-day work in which our dedicated employees are engaged.
During my nearly 40 years as a scientist and manager with the USGS, the earth sciences have undergone a dramatic revolution, encompassing imaging and exploration of the planets, moons, and comets of the solar system; imaging and exploration of the deep seabed; development and acceptance of the theory of plate tectonics; development and use of computer technology to better understand hydrologic systems, geologic structure, and other applications; increased involvement in solving immediate earth science problems that directly affect people's lives through applications of “real-time geology”; and application of new technology, such as electron microprobes and advanced cartographic and
geographic information systems. I see that revolution continuing, even accelerating. The integrated and cooperative efforts of many scientific disciplines in the study of global change will be part of that continuing revolution.
The USGS has a long and proud tradition of providing “Earth Science in the Public Service.” As our Nation continues to face important questions concerning the availability and use of its land, water, energy, and mineral resources, the Survey's mission to provide the scientific information necessary to address these questions takes on added significance. The articles in this yearbook, which I must emphasize represent only a sampling of the many investigations and studies that are being conducted in this country and around the world, show that we continually rededicate ourselves to addressing those questions.
Large dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado. The highest dune is about 800 feet high. Mature trees at base of dune are about 70 feet high. (Photograph by John R. Keith.)
National Mapping Program
Nhe primary mission of the National Mapping
Division is to conduct the National Mapping
Program. This program, which involves collecting, archiving, and disseminating cartographic, geographic, and remotely sensed data, provides accurate and up-to-date basic cartographic data for the United States in forms that can be readily applied to present-day problems. Topographic maps at various scales illustrating detailed and precisely referenced information about natural and manmade features on the Earth's surface continue to be an important product of the U.S. Geological Survey. These maps provide basic cartographic information needed by most Federal, State, and local government agencies in dealing with key issues ranging from energy production to conservation, from preparing environmental impact statements to developing socially acceptable solutions for environmental problems, and from locating commercial facilities to designing public works.
In addition to maps, the National Mapping Program also produces cartographic data in computerreadable form. These data are used in computer-based resource information and management systems to evaluate alternative management plans and to study the effects of different policies.