Project Details


An anticipated increase in population to more than 8 billion, a 50% increase in demand for food and fuel, and a 30% increase in demand for clean water will occur in the next 2 decades. To enable this, humanity must increase our understanding of the physical, biological and chemical processes occurring in the Critical Zone (CZ) that nurture human society globally. The CZ is Earth's surface layer between the top of the vegetation canopy and the base of groundwater. Such understanding will help society to better adapt to and manage the effects associated with ongoing land-use and climate change. This proposal proposes to create an international Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) SAVI as an integrating activity for Earth surface geosciences research worldwide.

The aim of this proposal is to address important and outstanding charges that challenge the U.S. CZO program: How can individual sites articulate and answer network-wide questions? How can the diverse CZOs make some measurements in a coordinated fashion at all CZOs? Proponents hypothesize that development of such measurements and questions requires focused leadership and a concerted effort that entails 5 years of workshops, graduate and postgraduate student mentoring, and targeted research projects that demand common measurements. They have proposed an approach to the development of international cross-CZO science, and to establish a new cadre of truly interdisciplinary and international scientists through graduate student and postdoctoral training.

This CZO SAVI will establish a framework to address major challenges that face humanity with respect to habitability of the CZ. This project will engage U.S. and international partners from diverse networks by: 1) learning to explore and measure the essential variables underpinning models of the CZ; and, 2) supporting a U.S. group of junior scientists to become the next-generation of international scholars of the CZ. In short, the project seeks to implement a cross cutting and coupled network of junior researchers working closely with the senior CZO leaders to promote understanding of the cross-disciplinary and coupled nature of CZ processes. This is designated as a Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) award and is co-funded by NSF's Geosciences Directorate, Biological Sciences Directorate and the Office of International and Integrative Activities.

Effective start/end date8/1/147/31/21


  • National Science Foundation: $1,382,827.00


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