Critical Zone Science: A Workshop on the Biological Aspects of Weathering; October 3-5, 2009; Washington, D.C.

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Critical Zone is the zone on Earth where rocks meet life: as such, this zone supports the functioning of human society. Due to ongoing anthropogenic activity, the health of this Zone, including the hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere, is now under stress. Soils integrate and record the chemical, biological, and physical processes occurring in the Critical Zone, and as such provide a long-term history of change.

To understand long-term and recent change in the Critical Zone, a global and interdisciplinary Critical Zone community has formed to collect, track, and disseminate data on Critical Zone processes that are driven by changes in important environmental variables. This community continues to grow as groundwater chemists, soil chemists, geomorphologists, ecologists, microbiologists, and others seek to understand the coupled processes in the Critical Zone.

To guide and advance future research programs in Critical Zone science, the proponents plan to organize a workshop, ?The Critical Zone: A Workshop on the Biological Aspects of Weathering,? to be held in October 2009 in Washington, D.C. Approximately 20 to 25 leading scientists in the fields of geosciences, soil sciences, ecology and microbiology will participate. This cross-disciplinary workshop will be organized by Susan L. Brantley, Pennsylvania State University, and Patrick Megonigal, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and will be held at the Smithsonian Institute?s National Museum of Natural History. The goal of the workshop will be to articulate a research agenda for the biological aspects of weathering science for the next 10 years. The discussions will lead to a publication on the topic that will lay out up to 10 important research questions.

Broader Impacts. In this proposal, we ask NSF to subsidize the costs of the meeting. Workshop participants will derive from university and government organizations and will derive from a variety of disciplines. The goals of the workshop will have broad impact because the workshop will:

? Foster multidisciplinary collaboration among Critical Zone scientists

? Identify new approaches to Critical Zone science

? Identify research areas that are currently underfunded and that lie between geosciences and biological sciences

? Develop research priorities for weathering science

? Articulate a 10-year research agenda for the interface of geochemistry-biology as it pertains to Critical Zone science

? Produce one publication highlighting future research priorities

Effective start/end date10/1/099/30/11


  • National Science Foundation: $64,812.00


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