The NCED Mission

Understanding Landscape and Ecosystem Co-evolution

NCED (the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center (STC) that successfully ran 10 years from 2002-2012.  Headquartered at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) at the University of Minnesota, NCED's mission to predict the coupled dynamics and co-evolution of landscapes and their ecosystems in order to transform management and restoration of the Earth-surface environment led to forging national and international partnerships and integrating researchers and practitioners from the physical, biological, and social sciences.

NCED2 solidifies NCED's legacy by continuing a small core of the most successful and community-centric programs developed under NCED in a new format. Overall, the goal of NCED2 is to perpetuate the legacy of NCED in an innovative form that will engage the broader research community by focusing activity around an annual research theme that will bring together experimental, theoretical, and field researchers in the field of Earth-Surface Dynamics (ESD).

NCED research focused on channel networks and their surroundings, striving to answer one overarching question. 

"How will the coupled system of physical, biological, geochemical, and human processes that shape the surface of the Earth respond to changes in climate, land use, environmental management, and other forcings?"

In response, we tackled three grand challenges, addressed through three Integrated Programs (IPs) that approached channel networks from a source to sink perspective (see links below):

-Developing a mechanistic understanding of the erosional and depositional processes that shape landscapes;
-Discovering the linkages between physical, chemical, and biological processes; and
-Using the understanding of landscape and ecosystem dynamics to guide management decisio

With the close of the NCED STC and the rise of NCED2, we continue to focus on the problem of predicting the Earth-surface environment, combining observations of modern and past surface systems, experiments, and a full spectrum of theoretical approaches. The NCED2 program comprises a set of linked activities designed to make NCED2 a true research commons for Earth-surface dynamics. These components are unified by the core idea of theme years under which all NCED2 activities in a given year will revolve around a specific research theme chosen with input from the research community and our Advisory Board. 

The first two annual themes include:

Year 1: Subsurface to surface: recovering dynamics from stratigraphic records
Year 2: Complexity and predictability of geomorphic systems