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Geophysics is big science in the classical sense of the phrase: worldwide, expensive, long-term, cooperative, and any combination thereof. Because of this the Geophysics Research Board of the National Research Council decided several years ago to undertake a program of topical studies. Each of these studies is to culminate in a publication that will help provide public policy makers a firmer basis for their decisions, the scientific community a better understanding of the issues, challenges, and problems facing them, or the public a better understanding of the wonder of our science and the contributions we can make to their well-being. No matter to which audience a particular study is addressed, we are sure that the members of AGU will find it interesting, informative, and vital, and we urge you to obtain copies as they are issued, to read them, and to involve yourself with your colleagues, your congressmen, and our friends in advancing our science and using it to the benefit of society.