The topography of the continents and their margins is at the interface of deep Earth, surface and atmospheric processes. Topography influences society, not only as a result of slow landscape changes but also in terms of how it impacts on geohazards and the environment. When sea-, lake- or ground-water levels rise or land subsides, the risk of flooding increases, directly affecting the sustainability of local ecosystems and human habitats. On the other hand, declining water levels and uplifting land may lead to higher risks of erosion and desertification. Although natural processes and human activities create geohazards and environmental changes, the relative contribution of the respective components remains poorly understood. That topography influences climate has been known since the beginning of civilization, but only recently have we been able to model its effects in regions where good (paleo-)topographic and climatologic data are available. The present state and behaviour of the shallow Earth System is a consequence of processes operating over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. These include the long-term effects of tectonic uplift, subsidence, climate variations and the development of river systems, the residual effects of the ice ages on crustal movement, natural climate and environmental changes over the past millennia up to the present, and the powerful anthropogenic impacts of the last century. If we are to understand the present state of the Earth System, to predict its future and to engineer our use of it, this spectrum of processes, operating concurrently but on different scales, needs to be better understood. The challenge to the Geosciences is to describe the state of the system, to monitor its changes, to forecast its evolution and, in collaboration with others, to evaluate modes of its sustainable use by human society.
(S.A.P.L. Cloetingh, Chair of the TOPO-EUROPE Steering Committee)
TOPO-EUROPE white paper
An excellent overview article by S.A.P.L. Cloetingh et al. on the TOPO-EUROPE initiative has been published in Global and Planetary Change 58 (2007) 1-118.
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A short article by S.A.P.L. Cloetingh on TOPO-EUROPE initiative has been published in NEOTECHTONICS 08 (2008)
In response to the call for Outline Proposals, 45 eligible Outline Proposals were submitted by May 2007. The international TOPO-EUROPE Review Panel (RP) convened in June 2007 to sift the Outline Proposals according to the assessment criteria. 23 full proposals were invited and received by September 2007. These proposals (plus 3-4 external assessments per proposal) were then ranked by the RP in December 2007. Out of 11 Collaborative Research Projects (CRPs) that were recommended by the RP for funding to the national Funding Agencies, 10 CRPs were accepted and started their official networking phase in June 2008.