CZNews Winter & Spring 2020, U.S. NSF National Critical Zone Observatories (CZO) Program

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2020 CZO Webinar Series on Sustainability

The U.S. CZO Program presents the 2020 CZO Webinar Series to highlight research findings of the CZOs and discuss the impact and relevancy of their findings on society and environmental sustainability. The Shale Hills and Southern Sierra CZOs will kick off the series in April with the two webinars listed below. Information on future webinars and how to participate via Zoom is available at You can also sign up for an e-mail reminder for the series at
"How Climate and Geology Pre-Condition the Response of Upland Watersheds to Human Impacts"
 When: Wednesday, April 8th at 2:00 pm ET
 Speaker: Roman DiBiase, Penn State University, Susquehanna Shale Hills CZO
“Predicting mountain-ecosystem response to disturbance through scaling subsurface water-storage capacity”
 When: Wednesday, April 22nd at 3:30 pm ET
 Speaker: Roger Bales, UC Merced, Southern Sierra CZO
CZ Science: From Natural to Social Sciences,
Economics, Politics, and Art?
An interesting and novel session exploring the intersection between CZ and social sciences was convened by Jérôme Gaillardet (IPGP), Anna Krzywoszynska (UOS), Tim White (PSU) and Jean-Daniel Rinaudo (BRGM) at the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, CA. The session, PA43A - Critical Zone Science: From Natural to Social Sciences, Economics, Politics, and Art?, encouraged collaboration between natural and social sciences by focusing on the CZ as a meeting place for different forms of knowledge and action, and shared different visions of, engagements with, and representations of the CZ to help illustrate how humans and non-human agencies are connected in the CZ. The session was followed by a lively 2-hour discussion between conveners, speakers, and attendees. The list of presentations and speakers that participated in the formal session can be found here and the poster session here.

Researchers from the Ganges CZO in India explain the types of instrumentation used and data collected to local residents. From this project, Rajiv Sinha (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur) presented “Understanding community perspectives for estimation of crop water stress in an agriculture-dominated CZO in the Ganga plains, India” during the AGU session.
Photo Credit: Surya Gupta

Upcoming Events

CZO Spotlight:
Beyond the Brink Documentary 

Produced during the worst drought in California's recorded history, the documentary “Beyond the Brink” focuses on the water-and-food nexus in the San Joaquin Valley, an agricultural region growing food consumed across the U.S and around the world. With the threat of dwindling sources of agriculture in many regions, the risk posed to society and national security is even greater in this valley and similar regions with such high-yield food production. The film explores issues surrounding the connectivity of upstream water sources and downstream water users, California's current water and agricultural infrastructure, and the impacts of water shortages on food security, local economies, and global societies. It shows the ever-increasing difficulties for farmers and the local produce industry due to drought and water scarcity and examines solutions and technologies currently being designed, produced and utilized in modern day agriculture. The film is created, produced and directed by cinematic public policy influencer and regional environmental planner Jim Thebaut. It is the latest film for The Chronicles Group, a multimedia non-profit organization, in a series of documentaries dealing with public policy and national security issues. Southern Sierra CZO investigators Roger Bales and Martha Conklin were both featured in the documentary which is available on Amazon Prime and other streaming services. Watch the trailer at
5th CZO International Workshop
The 5th Annual CZO International Workshop was held Sunday, December 8th, 2019 prior to the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, CA. Forty registrants attended representing 8 nations and the NSF. After brief introductions around the room, US CZO National Office Director Tim White presented a brief update and overview of recent activities and opportunities from the international CZ community. Tim was followed by Nic Arnaud (Director, CNRS, France) who provided an overview of the Belmont Forum and its anticipated call in 2020 for a Collaborative Research Action (CRA) with a focus on soil and water resources in the CZ. Nic was followed by 1) updates and an open forum on various national networks of CZOs; 2) a group discussion of potential foci areas/themes in response to the anticipated Belmont Forum CRA, 3) breakout discussions based on themes and the development of potential research partnerships, and 4) a closing report out. The enthusiasm and collegiality was palpable throughout the day, as in all of the previous workshops, and we hope to identify funds to continue this workshop in coming years. Stay tuned. 
Teacher Workshops at AGU &
the American Museum of Natural History

AGU collaborates with the National Earth Science Teachers’ Association (NESTA) to run Geoscience Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshops at Fall Meetings. Registration for the meeting and GIFT workshops is free for K-12 educators. As part of AGU’s two-day GIFT Workshop at the annual meeting in December 2019, Ashlee Dere (UNO), Alexandra Moore (PRI), and Don Haas (PRI) led a 90-minute workshop, “Carbon, Climate Change & the Critical Zone: Where Does Gasoline Go?” The workshop introduced CZ Science and guided participants through classroom activities exploring the movement of carbon in the CZ. Special attention was given to the importance of understanding scale and applying such understandings to the implications of burning 390 million gallons of gasoline per day in the United States. Each gallon of gas contains 5.5 pounds of carbon, roughly the same amount as in an 8-foot long 2”x4” piece of lumber. Then on January 10th, Haas led a workshop on making and using Virtual Field Experiences (VFEs) for the American Museum of Natural History’s Masters of Arts in Teaching program. Don has led similar workshops for the program for several years. They serve as introductions to both VFEs and CZ Science for application to the classroom. Resources from the GIFT workshop can be found here: and the AMNH workshop here:

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