Critical Zone Observatories U.S. National Program
         Recent U.S. Federal budget negotiations have resulted in a series of Continuing Resolutions (CR) that fund the government at current levels for a relatively short period of time. On February 9th, Congress passed a new CR that runs until March 23rd and hopefully by that time, Congress and the White House will have approved a longer-term budget agreement. Why does this pertain to CZOs? Science funding is held in check under a CR. Consequently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) cannot commit to new spending above minimal levels and programs like CZO are on hold until a “normal budget” is passed. Since funding for the current CZO program ends this year, the CZ science community is waiting for a new program announcement from NSF but the uncertainty in the Federal budget impacts the timing and scope of this announcement. This is obviously damaging to both the CZO program and to our science in general. It’s worth noting that failure to pass timely budgets, the use of CRs, and threats of government shutdowns goes back to the 1990’s so not all of this is new.
         This makes life very difficult for the large majority of us who are dependent on funding for research and salary. It is particularly damaging for young researchers who may not be in a position to “ride out” such a storm of events. The point of this column is not to assign blame to a particular political party or politician. Rather, I ask you to reach out to your political representation regardless of affiliation. We, as a community, need to express to our elected representatives that the current chaotic process is unambiguously damaging to both basic and applied research, and to the training of the next generation of scientists. Historically, there has been reasonable bi-partisan agreement that federally funded basic research brings clear economic benefits to the nation. Congress isn’t arguing over science, they’re arguing over taxes, health care, and immigration, but science is caught up in the maelstrom. Call your congressional representatives and ask them to move forward with a budget. We all need it, even if it’s not the budget we might wish for.
- Lou Derry
Director, CZO National Office

Combining field observations & models to understand terrestrial carbon cycling in complex terrain
Current Research Highlight

Yuting He, a PhD candidate at Pennsylvania State University, wonders why the trees at the Shale Hills CZO are taller in the valley floor and shorter on the ridge top. To study this, Yuting brings together diverse field observations (e.g. soil moisture, soil temperature, soil depth, radiation, tree biomass data and eddy covariance data) with a biogeochemistry model (Biome-BGC) to understand terrestrial carbon cycling. Her research suggests that nitrogen and water interact with each other to create the observed spatial distribution of carbon pools in the watershed.
To refine the model, Yuting used a global sensitivity analysis method (Sobol) to determine that ecophysiological parameters and soil physical properties are important in determining the size and spatial structure of carbon pools. Her next step would be to assimilate more CZ measurements to constrain these important parameters and make the model more robust to simulate the spatial pattern of carbon pools and fluxes in complex terrain.
CZO serves as an important platform for ecosystem modeling in complex terrain;
in return, models are useful
 in informing
what to measure in the CZ.


Critical Zone Science in the News

Brantley wins 2018 Urey Award
Shale Hills CZO PI Susan Brantley (Penn State University) receives the European Association of Geochemistry’s 2018 Urey Award for her outstanding contributions advancing geochemistry.
Read this article
Elucidating Runoff Levels During Drought 
Using measurements acquired from the Southern Sierra CZO, scientists have been able to pinpoint four distinct mechanisms that regulate runoff levels. 
Read this news release
Podcast: Non-Extreme Weather and Ecosystems
IML CZO PI Praveen Kumar (University of Illinois) discusses how changes in non-extreme weather can affect an ecosystem.
Listen to this podcast
See more: News | Twitter

Upcoming Meetings

The Geological Society of America (GSA) Joint Rocky Mountain & Cordilleran Section Meeting 2018

May 15-17 — Flagstaff, AZ
Abstracts deadline: February 20th 

Consider submitting an abstract to the CZ-related theme, "Earth Surface Processes in the Critical Zone." The session will strive to develop upon the concept that to achieve environmental sustainability, society must first understand the CZ, its natural processes and services, and how those processes operate with and without humanity.

2018 GSA Joint Section Meeting Information

The Clay Minerals Annual Meeting

June 11-14 — University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstracts deadline: April 6th

The Clay Minerals Society is hosting its 55th Annual Meeting, "New Visions in Clay Science". A CZ-related session, "Intensively Managed Clays in the Critical Zone," aims to bring together clay scientists with a cross-section of ecologists, geochemists, hydrologists, and geophysicists to elucidate the role of clay minerals in the architecture of the CZ.

The Clay Minerals Annual Meeting Information

Goldschmidt 2018

August 12-17 — Boston, Massachusetts 
Abstracts deadline: March 30th

Goldschmidt is an annual international conference which focuses on geochemistry and related subjects, organized by the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry. Goldschmidt 2018 has several CZ-science themed sessions. 

CZ-related sessions at Goldschmidt 2018


Jobs & Opportunities

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)
Summer Program at Biosphere 2

Application deadline: March 1st

The Biosphere 2 REU program is providing 10 undergraduates with an opportunity to conduct guided research in environmental and Earth systems science. Participants will conduct their own research with a faculty mentor, interact with other participants and scientists, and present research findings in a formal poster symposium setting. Undergraduate students from a wide range of disciplines and interests including biology, ecology, plant sciences, hydrology, soil science, geology, atmospheric science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, or computer science are encouraged to apply. Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for this NSF funded program. Applications for summer of 2018 (June 4 - Aug 10, 2018) are due March 1st, 2018.

Apply here

Postdoctoral researcher opportunity at
Ohio State University

Application deadline: Ongoing

This postdoctoral position is with the computational hydrogeology lab led by Dr. Audrey H. Sawyer at Ohio State University. The post-doc will participate in an established network of scientists working in the DOE-funded East River Watershed SFA and NSF-supported CZOs.The position requires a Ph.D. with expertise in aqueous geochemistry, biogeochemistry, or groundwater hydrology. The position is for 1.5 years with flexible start date (ideally between August 2018 and January 2019).

 Email Dr. Audrey Sawyer for more information (be sure to attach a CV)

CZO SAVI International Scholars Program

Application deadline: March 12th 

The CZO Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) project is accepting applications from graduate students or postdoctoral scholars (U.S. citizens or green card holders at U.S. universities only) for CZ research activities at any sites or laboratories globally. Applicants should send a 3-page proposal describing the intended research activities, budget, and anticipated outcomes. The single-pdf-file application packet should also include a C.V., letter of recommendation from the applicant’s primary advisor, and a letter of support from the appropriate contact person at the overseas host institution. Applications should be sent to Tim White ( 

Learn more

CZO SAVI Summer Interns Program

Application deadline: March 26th

The CZO SAVI project is accepting applications to fund cross-CZO research by graduate students or postgraduate summer interns (U.S. citizens or green card holders at U.S. universities only). Applicants can propose research activities at any of the U.S. CZOs. Those proposals that advance cross-cutting questions and/or data synthesis at multiple CZOs will be prioritized, and links between CZO and LTER sites will also be well regarded. Applicants should send a 3-page proposal describing the proposed research activities, budget, and anticipated outcomes. The single-pdf-file application packet should also include a C.V., letter of recommendation from the applicant’s primary advisor, and letters of support from the appropriate contact person(s) at the host CZO(s). Applications should be sent to Tim White ( 

Learn more

CZO SAVI & French OZCAR Scholars Program

Application deadline: March 26, 2018

A major goal of the Critical Zone observatory program globally is to develop international collaborations, including young scientists who will advance CZ science throughout their careers. U.S. applicants can propose CZ research activities at any sites of the OZCAR Critical Zone resource or laboratories associated with the French CZO initiative, whereas French students can propose research at any of the U.S. CZOs or associated university partners. Applicants should send a 3-page proposal describing the proposed research activities, budget and anticipated outcomes. The single-pdf-file application packet should also include a C.V., letter of recommendation from the applicant’s primary advisor, and a letter of support from the appropriate contact person at the French host institution. Applications from U.S. students should be sent to Sarah Sharkey (, whereas French applicants should send their proposals to Fatim Hankard (
Learn more
Also See: CZNews Winter 2018

Copyright © 2018 Critical Zone Observatories, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp