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The Role of Critical Zone Observatories in Critical Zone Science

1024 681 Stroud Water Research Center

White, T., S. Brantley, S. Banwart, J. Chorover, W. Dietrich, L. Derry, K. Lohse, S. Anderson, A. Aufdenkampe, R. Bales, P. Kumar, D. Richter, and B. McDowell. 2015. Pages 15–17 in J.R. Giardino and C. Houser (editors). Developments in earth surface processes, volume 19: principles and dynamics of the Critical Zone. Elsevier, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


ISBN 9780444633699


The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has pioneered an integrated approach to the study of Earth’s Critical Zone by supporting a network of Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs). The CZOs are intensively studied and monitored sites with a focus on a range of Critical Zone processes that are well represented at the various sites. The initial network (beginning in 2007) consisted of 3 CZOs, expanded to 6 in 2009, and is currently expanding to a total of 10 in 2014. The investment in financial and human resources into the CZOs has enabled a range of new scientific investigations that were not accessible under traditional funding mechanisms, and this is leading to novel and exciting advances in scientific understanding of a fundamentally important part of the Earth system.