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May 18th, 2007

James Syvitski to lead new NSF earth-surface modeling effort

James Syvitski was awarded $4.2 million by the National Science Foundation in a cooperative agreement over five years to lead a national effort to model the changing face of the Earth's surface. Syvitski will be the executive director of a new NSF initiative, the Community Surface Dynamic Modeling System (CSDMS), which will involve hundreds of scientists and students from dozens of federal labs and universities around the nation, including CU-Boulder. CSDMS will study how landscapes and seascapes change over time, and how materials like water, sediments and nutrients are transported from one place to another. These studies will provide a better understanding of the Earth system and allow better predictions about areas at risk to phenomena like deforestation, forest fires, land-use changes and the impacts of climate change. The national CSDMS team will use powerful supercomputers to model the evolution of landscapes and sediment basins on time scales ranging from individual events like modern-day floods or landslides to processes taking place over millions of years. The researchers will use the models to focus on complex interactions involving rock, soil, water air, ice and living organisms and how they regulate the natural habitat and determine the availability of life-sustaining resources. The NSF award for the project will be augmented with financial and in-kind support from other federal agencies, including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Office of Naval Research, the Army Research Office, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey.