News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

10. Terrestrial Sciences

Basic research in terrestrial sciences studies terrain characteristics and processes, including topography, climatology, and hydrology. These critically affect all aspects of mission planning, logistics, unit effectiveness, and system performance. Knowledge of the topographic, geological, climatological, and hydrological character of the landscape are critical to mobility/countermobility, logistics, communications, survivability, and troop and weapons effectiveness. The digital battlefield also requires detailed and sophisticated information about topography as well as terrain and environmental features and conditions. Terrestrial sciences research in two broad areas is of particular importance to Army goals: solid earth sciences, and hydrodynamics and surficial processes. Table E–32 highlights international research capabilities in terrestrial sciences.

Table E–32.  International Research Capabilities—Terrestrial Sciences


United Kingdom




Asia/Pacific Rim


Other Countries

Solid Earth Sciences 1s.gif (931 bytes) Retrofit materials systems 2s.gif (968 bytes) Geotechnical materials 2s.gif (968 bytes) Structural response 2s.gif (968 bytes) China, India

5s.gif (958 bytes)


5s.gif (958 bytes) Geosciences


5s.gif (958 bytes) Soil remediation


2s.gif (968 bytes)


5s.gif (958 bytes)

Hydrodynamics & Surficial Processes 1s.gif (931 bytes) Hydrology Hydrology 5s.gif (958 bytes) 2s.gif (968 bytes) India

4s.gif (949 bytes)


5s.gif (958 bytes)


5s.gif (958 bytes)


2s.gif (968 bytes) Stochastic hydrology


2s.gif (968 bytes) Hydrogeology


2s.gif (968 bytes)


4s.gif (949 bytes)

Note: See Annex E, Section A.6 for explanation of key numerals.


a. Solid Earth Sciences

This field contributes to the characterization of the surface geometry and terrain features needed for enhanced planning and tactical decision making, as well as for designing equipment to the challenges of the natural environment. Research in topography and terrain seeks to develop new remote sensing data acquisition capabilities, data synthesis, and analysis techniques to develop topography and terrain database information. This work is supported by studies of the dynamic physical processes involved in the interactions between surface features and materials and the atmospheric boundary layer and weather systems, in order to produce highly sophisticated models of dynamic environmental effects on mission performance. Geotechnical engineering research focuses on the strength and behavior of natural materials under a variety of external forces, both natural and manmade. This includes studies of the properties of snow, ice, and frozen ground, as well as soil dynamics and structural mechanics.

International capabilities in areas related to Army goals include research on retrofit material systems in the U.K., geotechnical materials research in France, and precision experiments in structural response in Germany. Many other countries have significant capabilities in niche areas of solid earth sciences, including Australia, Japan, India, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and China.

b. Hydrodynamics and Surficial Processes

Basic research in hydrodynamics relates to the hydrologic cycle and focuses on hydrometeorology, rainfall/runoff dynamics, and fluvial hydraulics as well as the relationship between surface and groundwater hydrology. Research in surficial processes relates to the geomorphological character of the surficial environment, primarily the physical processes operating in arid/semiarid, tropical, and coastal environments. This work contributes to the ability to estimate hydrologic and physical response and, therefore, to the ability to accomplish specific activities within a range of expected environmental conditions. International capabilities in areas of research related to Army goals include studies of hydrogeology in Israel and Canada, and magnetohydrodynamics and hydrology work in France and the United Kingdom. Other countries with active basic research programs in this area include Japan, Australia, India, China, Russia, and the Netherlands.

The following highlight a few selected examples of specific facilities engaged in terrestrial sciences research:

United Kingdom—Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University. Research includes work in reinforced soil design aimed at calculations and design methods for practical application. These methods stem from the understanding of behavior developed through laboratory research and instrumented field experiments. These studies can contribute to selection of design safety parameters for reinforced soil, including the use of polymer reinforcement materials. Work has recently been focused on the use of reinforcement over poor ground for the construction of embankments and unpaved roads. New analyses have been developed for both cases, using plasticity theory for the embankment and a limit equilibrium analysis for unpaved roads.

Sweden—Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Royal Institute of Technology. Research in electrokinetic remediation attempts to develop new technologies for soil remediation. This process applies a low–level direct current to the polluted soil by electrodes placed in the ground to remove inorganic and organic contaminants from the soil by dissociation. This low–cost process can be used in a variety of soil types and is applicable equally to coarse– and fine–grained soils. The specific goal of the research effort is to study the transport and chemistry in the electrokinetic process and to improve the electrokinetic remediation technology.

Israel—Department of Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer, Tel Aviv University. Research includes work in theory of flow through porous media and groundwater hydrology. Other activities involve the modeling of water flow and contaminant transport in the upper soil layer and in aquifers. Subjects of environmental concern such as transport of radioactive waste in highly heterogeneous formations, motion of chemically reactive contaminants, and modeling of multiphase flows at field scale are planned for investigation in the coming years, as well as research on the impact of uncertainty on hydrological prediction.

Canada—National Hydrology Research Institute. Hydrologic model development and applications research concentrates on the hydrology of northern regions in both the arctic and subarctic regions of Canada. Current distributed hydrologic models are used to estimate components of the hydrologic cycle in two specific test regions. This approach utilizes detailed, satellite–derived land–cover information, along with physiographic and climate data. To advance this research, new modeling techniques that can be applied in distributed hydrologic models are being developed. Other research efforts include work to incorporate permafrost components in these models and characterization of snow cover distribution.

Russia—Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia. The main directions of research include studies of regional and mesoscale hydrometeorological processes; modeling of ocean processes, the study of ocean–atmosphere interaction and the interaction of atmosphere with hydrological processes over the land, and development of new methods for hydrometeorological forecasting within different time scales. One specific program involves mathematical modeling to develop systems of long–range forecasts of hydrological regime of large chains of reservoirs and methods of forecasting hazardous events on mountain rivers. This approach rationalizes calculations and long–range forecasts of freezing and break–up of rivers and reservoirs and discharge hydrographs of mountain rivers using precipitation and temperature data.

Click here to go to next page of document