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Boulder City, Colorado, United States

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: DEEP EARTH PROCESSES SECTION | Award Amount: 60.43K | Year: 2014


This grant will support a focused three day workshop in Colorado in early fall 2014. The purpose of the workshop is to bring together various stakeholders to discuss the future of the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) continental scale geodetic network in the U.S. PBO consists of approximately 1100 continuously operating Global Positioning System receivers installed across the U.S. but with increased density in the Western U.S. near the active plate margin of the North American plate. Here, crustal deformation rates are high and earthquakes are concentrated along the San Andreas and associated transform faults. Offshore the Pacific Northwest and southern Alaska ocean crust is subducted beneath the North American plate leading to active volcanic processes in the Cascades and Aleutians and where large tsunamigenic earthquakes have been recorded in the historical record. PBO also includes other geodetic sensing modalities including borehole strainmeters (BSM) and seismometers, long baseline laser strain meters (LSM), tiltmeters and surface meteorological measurements. Geodetic observations are recorded at a range of frequencies and some 400 of the 1100 GPS stations record at high rates (1 Hz) and transmit data in real time. All PBO data and data products are archived centrally UNAVCO, Inc. (www.unavco.org) and are freely available via internet web access. PBO data products are used to address a wide range of scientific and technical issues across North America. A large US and international community of surveyors and civil engineers access PBO data streams, software, and other on-line resources daily. The western US and Alaska, where over 95% of the PBO sensor assets are located, have experienced and will continue to experience significant and potentially damaging geophysical events like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. The science facilitated by PBO provides first-order constraints on geophysical processes to support hazards mapping and zoning and for earthquake early warning applications currently under development.

Under a new NSF-UNAVCO, Inc. five-year Cooperative Agreement, PBO along with globally distributed geodetic infrastructure used for precise positioning via GPS and to support satellite and spacecraft orbital positioning, are now managed as part of the so-called GAGE facility (Geodesy Advancing Geosciences and EarthScope). In FY 2013, budget challenges led to a directed cut to the baseline GAGE support from NSF from operational costs incurred in FY 2012 and previous. Thus, the workshop will seek to identify the longer term ramifications of that rebaselining and how scientific and other priorities will help define what components of PBO, in particular, are at risk of being terminated in the near future under the period of the GAGE five year Cooperative Agreement (2013-2018). The workshop will support a meeting of a number of scientific and technical leaders with a wide variety of scientific interests, representatives from the commercial sector who either have current products or business models based on free and open access to the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) geodetic facility data and data products, or who may have an interest in developing new business or products based on PBO assets and streams in the future, and relevant federal and state agency representatives. The workshop will result in a report and web resources encapsulating community-vetted recommendations.


Agency: NSF | Branch: Cooperative Agreement | Program: | Phase: INSTRUMENTATION & FACILITIES | Award Amount: 3.40M | Year: 2013


This Cooperative Agreement (CA) between NSF and UNAVCO, Inc. supports continued management and operation of the national Earth sciences Global Positioning System (GPS) and geodetic technology support facility (?the UNAVCO Facility?). Activities supported include planning and engineering support for GPS and geodetic technology field projects, active management of continuously operated GPS networks, campaign GPS project and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) project support, technology development and testing, data services and education and community engagement activities. All these activities are external to activities UNAVCO manages on behalf of the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) and which are currently and separately funded via a Cooperative Agreement managed by the EAR/EarthScope Program. Support for this CA includes NSF Division of Earth Sciences and Polar Programs funding as well as support from the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA). UNAVCO, Inc. is a non-profit corporation governed by a Board of Directors elected by the UNAVCO membership comprised predominantly of U.S. academic institutions with active research programs in geodesy. There are currently over 100 member institutions and nearly 80 associate (non-voting members) which including foreign universities, international government observatories, academies, and agencies. It is noteworthy that the consortium membership has grown by some 53% since the time of submission of the last Facility support proposal in 2007. Specific activities to be supported under the CA include:
1) maintenance of a pool of state-of-the-art GPS (currently 350 receivers in the Facility pool) and portable tripod mounted ?terrestrial laser scanners? (TLS; currently 6) available to NSF-supported scientists;
2) continuing support for maintenance, telemetry and ultimate archival of semi-permanent continuous GPS station observations with station locations spanning the globe (currently > 2,200 cCPS stations provide data to the UNAVCO Facility archive, not counting the ca. 1,110 cGPS station that comprise PBO);
3) provision of personnel dedicated to NSF and NASA funded GPS and TLS project planning, logistics and field engineering support (ca. 60-70 non-Polar region projects supported each year and 30-40 Polar projects per year and ca. 30-40 TLS projects supported each year with rapid growth in the latter);
4) maintenance and operations of the 61 stations in the NASA Global GPS Network (GGN), a subset of the International GPS Network (IGS) that provides crucial data to the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) needed for International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) solutions;
5) development and maintenance of a GPS data archive (now approaching 39 Tb of storage with rapid growth forced by the evolution of near 100 cGPS stations that now record observation at high rate , 1 Hz or greater, and web-based access tools;
6) maintenance and development of an archive and distribution system for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) scenes used for interferometric (InSAR) study of the continuum deformation fields associated with tectonic, volcanic, seismic and subsurface fluid dynamics over spatial scales of 100s of kilometers (the archive contains thousands of scenes of spaceborne SAR imagery from the European Space Agency ERS 1, ERS2, EnviSAT, Canadian RadarSAT and German TerraSAR X SAR satellites; some 20 Tb of holdings);
7) planning and coordination of various geodetic community activities (e.g., scientific workshops, steering committee meetings);
8) development, evaluation and testing of new commercial GPS and geodetic technologies (e.g., antenna phase center calibrations, novel power and telemetry solutions for semi-permanent cGPS and co-located environmental sensor stations, testing of new GNSS capable receivers that are capable of recording new U.S. GPS, European Galileo and Russian GLONASS carrier frequencies);
9) ensuring a representative and responsive governance process on behalf of the U.S. academic research community using precision geodetic techniques; and
10) provision of education and outreach materials and web-based tools to students and the public about precision geodetic research applications, the Earth sciences, and UNAVCO.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: GEOINFORMATICS | Award Amount: 100.91K | Year: 2016

This Geoinformatics award to the University of California San Diego supports a multi-year project that is collaborative with Arizona State University and UNAVCO, Inc. The project plan will improve upon and refine the capabilities of the OpenTopography Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data services web portal that was initially jointly supported by NSF/EAR, NSF/OCI and NSF/CISE (EAR-0930731/EAR-0930643 and EAR-1226353). Efforts will entail development of strengthened interoperability, provision of a broadened suite of processing and data services, improved scalability via cloud and high performance computing, and provision of outreach and user support through short courses and workforce development. OpenTopography (OT) was designed to allow users web-based access Lidar generated high resolution topographic data sets and analysis tools in support of surface Earth process research, research training and education. A wide range of Earth Science fields including geomorphology, hydrology, glaciology, volcanology and neotectonics, have benefitted and will continue to benefit from OT data and tools.

Continued development efforts for OT will expand capabilities to handle full waveform LiDAR, TLS data and bathymetric data as well as the continued ingestion of extant airborne LiDAR and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data sets from numerous sources including the National Center for Airborne Laser Swath Mapping Facility (NCALM), the UNVACO hosted TLS instrument pool, NOAA, US Bureau of Reclamation, USGS, Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service and numerous state airborne LiDAR data sets and Space Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) global datasets. This work will expand topographic data collected with laser and photogrammetric technologies at a range of scales with a sustained emphasis on high-resolution topography (HRT; <1m/pix). At present OT?s rapidly growing data holdings currently include 186 LiDAR point cloud datasets (>829 billion points) covering 180,122 km2. The OT user community has grown to over 8,100 registered users and more than 47,000 point cloud processing jobs have accessed over 1.6 trillion LiDAR returns. This support is congruent with NSFs mission of promoting the progress of science and may advance the national prosperity and welfare through improved public access to high resolution digital georeferenced topographic data sets with applications to geohazards assessment and mitigation including improved flood forecasting.


Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 216.23K | Year: 2015

Front Range Community College (FRCC) and UNAVCO, a non-profit research facility that operates the NSF-supported Geodesy Advancing Geosciences and EarthScope (GAGE) Facility, are collaborating on a holistic project to engage and retain community college students throughtout the state of Colorado in geoscience education and career pathways. The American Geosciences Institute 2014 Workforce Report predicts a workforce shortage of ~135,000 geoscientists by 2022. Increasingly, students begin their undergraduate careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines at community colleges, making the transition between two-year and four-year undergraduate institutions a critical juncture for ensuring student retention and success. Providing students with authentic experiences in STEM through research experiences and internships, as well as helping students to understand the career opportunities available to them in the geosciences, to develop the academic and professional skills needed to succeed in those careers, and to identify the mentors and networks that can support them along the way, are proven best practices for retaining students in STEM pathways. Given the very diverse demographic make-up of students attending community colleges, successful transfer of these students into four-year degree programs helps to broaden participation of traditionally underrepresented students in STEM and the geosciences.

FRCC and UNAVCO are collaborating to implement a tiered, student-focused program that provides community college students in Colorado with experiential learning opportunities in the geosciences. The Geo-Launchpad program is creating an entry point into geo-focused careers for students through a structured experience, starting with introductory workshops and webinars to engage students, develop career awareness and initiate mentoring and networking. Motivated students move into a semester-long special topics course in geoscience designed to build student capacity, and reinvorce engagement. For a select group of students, the program culminates in an 8-week paid summer internship experience at UNAVCO, which provides continuity of the community college geoscience pathway with the industry and advanced education programs at Colorados research institutions. Students work in teams on projects focused on solid earth, cryosphere, environmental science, hydrogeodesy, and ocean/atmosphere applications of global postitioning system (GPS) technologies. Each intern is supported by 3 mentors, one of which is located at their home institution. In addition to increasing geoscience content knowledge, the Geo-Launchpad program activities help students build basic skills in critical thinking, data analysis, communication, and organization. An annual mini-symposium at UNAVCO provides faculty and students from around the state of Colorado with information regarding the Geo-Launchpad programs, as well as professional development related to mentoring and advising. After the initial phases of implementating the program at FRCC, the project will recruit and make available online many of the resources to other community college students throughout the state.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 75.00K | Year: 2014

This award will support engaging lower-division students in a pilot program called Leading Undergraduates in Challenges to Power Academic Development in Geosciences at UNAVCO. The goal of this program is to provide research experiences for less academically advanced students, who may not be ready for an independent research experience. The program will engage 4 community college and lower-division undergraduate students in an 8-week summer research and professional development experience. It is expected that through this program students will: become interested in geosciences and related careers, engage in collaborative research projects, and have the support needed to pursue degrees in geosciences and related fields. Students participating in this program will develop research-ready, communication, mathematics, and computing skills, as well as geoscience content knowledge. In addition, participants will have access to information about the relevance of geoscience to be shared with the broader interns networks of family and friends, eventually reaching hundreds of individuals in communities that typically do not have access to such information. Students will be hosted by UNAVCO in Boulder, Colorado and work on collaborative geodesy-focused research projects in the GAGE facility under the mentorship of UNAVCO staff. The program will prepare students from diverse backgrounds for academic and career opportunities in the geosciences through national recruitment at universities and community colleges with limited opportunities in STEM fields.

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