The mission statement for the Earth Research Institute (ERI) is “Supporting research and education in the sciences of our solid, fluid, and living Earth”. This mission reflects the union of several academic emphases and their symbiotic interactions, in particular:
- Natural Hazards - Impacts of Earth processes on society: earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, droughts, storms, wildfires, erosion, and other natural processes.
- Human Impacts - Impacts of humankind on Earth: pollution assessment and remediation, land use and land-cover change; food and freshwater security; anthropogenic forcing of climate changes, erosion, and fire; biodiversity conservation; and natural resource management (forestry, fisheries, etc.).
- Earth System Science - The science of Earth's subsystems (atmosphere, hydrosphere,lithosphere, cryosphere, biosphere and anthroposphere) and their interactions.
- Earth Evolution - Evolutionary mechanisms and history of Earth’s tectonics, climate, and biota from Earth’s formation to the present.
- Environmental Data - Integrated digital collaboratory where data, models, metadata resources,etc., are shared among investigators within ERI, across campus, and with colleagues throughout the US and internationally.
The interactions among these research foci underpin the academic vision for the Earth Research Institute. The five thrust areas provide a vision for two interdisciplinary, important academic objectives that are unique among research institutes in the UC and nationally:
1) Linking Earth system science with deep time. The merging of the primary research agendas of the founding units created a natural path to link research on the modern Earth with its deep-time evolution.
This facilitates novel research on how Earth formed simultaneously with how it currently functions. The geologic axiom that “the present is the key to the past” is best realized when observable processes provide a robust framework for testing interpretations of ancient, less-observable ones. Successful bridging from modern process to pre-historical results is a complex challenge.