Grand Challenges in the Earth and Space Sciences

As part of AGU’s Centennial celebrations, a set of papers have been commissioned to explore where major research and discovery is needed to address fundamental questions in our understanding of Earth and the solar system. The papers will be published across AGU’s journals as a special collection.

Topics range from the future of our dramatically changing polar regions, how climate change is affecting disease transmission, and improving earthquake prediction, to understanding the amount of water in the Moon’s interior, predicting weather on Mars, and forecasting solar eruptions.

Each paper will review the history of the topic and the current state of knowledge but will focus on the future, describing major unanswered questions and challenges and discussing what is needed to achieve the vision or provide solutions over the next decades. The papers will be free to access and be accompanied by additional information to make them accessible to the general reader.

Many of the issues have a direct impact on or benefit to society. AGU will use the collection to showcase our science to policy makers, funders, and the public.

We plan to begin publishing these papers through 2019.

The Solid Earth

How can we understand the evolution of Earth over time periods from seconds to thousands of millions of years, and from the scale of atoms to mountain belts? Low-temperature thermochronometry methods ...

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The Surface of the Earth

How much ice will Greenland lose as the climate continues to warm? Processes in both the atmosphere and ocean are causing increased melt on the ice sheet surface, as well acceleration, thinning and re...

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A Healthy and Sustainable Future

How can we reduce people’s exposure to harmful contaminants in air, water and soil? Across the world, a considerable amount of illness and disease is caused by contamination and pollutants, but some g...

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Climate and Weather

How can we better predict medium term weather that is beyond the scope of daily forecasts but shorter than seasonal climate outlooks? There are growing demands for such “sub-seasonal to seasonal” pred...

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Our Oceans

How will the polar oceans continue to influence – and be influenced by – climate change? The Arctic Ocean exerts a dramatic influence on global climate through the reflectivity of sea ice and the rele...

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Solar-Space Weather

How can we better describe and predict magnetic explosions in space? Magnetic reconnection is the engine behind powerful magnetic explosions throughout the universe. It powers phenomena such as solar ...

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Space Physics

How can we more accurately forecast the space environment in the 21st century? A donut of radiation surrounds Earth, and poses a danger to astronauts and satellites. We need to improve models for fore...

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Solar System & Beyond

What can we learn from ‘exoplanets’? During the past two decades more than 3000 planets have been detected beyond our solar system and many more will doubtless be discovered in the coming decades. Thi...

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