Fig 1. The critical zone of vegetation (green), soil and weathered bedrock with perched water table (red to blue), overlying fresh bedrock (grey) that exchanges currencies (arrows) with atmosphere (cloud) and mediates effluents (curved arrow) to a channel network (lines) which drain to ocean (blue triangle).
California's Eel River Critical Zone Observatory is rooted in intensive field monitoring in the critical zone, which follows watershed currencies (water, solutes, gasses, biota, sediment, energy, and momentum) through a subsurface physical environment and microbial ecosystem of the critical zone into the terrestrial ecosystem, up into the atmosphere, and out through drainage networks to the coastal ocean (Figure 1).
Soil, forest, and riverine ecosystems interact with these currencies, mediating the delivery of nutrients to the sea. CZO investigations will co-evolve with a synthesis model that mechanistically links the critical zone to atmospheric processes, watershed routing, ecosystems dynamics, stream flow, and coastal processes in order to investigate fundamental questions and to provide a modeling tool for management issues.
Our observatory operates at four distinct scales: 1) the hillslope (our critical zone workshop), 2) the stream reach (where critical zone currencies dictate water supply, extent of wetted channel, and the emergent aquatic ecosystem), 3) the whole watershed scale (nearly 10,000 km2), and 4) the regional scale (>13,000 km2). Read more about our field areas.
Motivated by anticipated increase in climate extremes (especially extended drought) and accelerating societal demand for water, we focus on filling knowledge gaps that not only inhibit our ability to forecast the magnitude of future change of systems, but even the sign of that change. We are also developing a modular coupled model (AWESOM) which will provide local predictions over a regional scale and that can be used to ask “what if” questions about possible future climate and landuse scenarios and the consequences on runoff and ecosystem states.
21 Apr 2017 - AGU has published a collection of commentaries highlighting the important role Earth and space science research plays in society.
06 Apr 2017 - 2017 CZO Webinar Series: Critical Zone and Society.
21 Mar 2016 - The following is part nine in a series on the National Science Foundation's Critical Zone Observatories (CZO) Network.
18 Feb 2016 - Science isn’t generally considered an extreme sport, but you wouldn’t know that by watching researchers in the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory.
29 Jul 2015 - Eel River CZO ecohydrologist Sally Thompson and ecologists Stephanie Carlson and Mary Power worked with The Nature Conservancy to explore the...
17 Jul 2015 - An Organized Session On Critical Zone Ecology At The 100th Annual Meeting Of The Ecological Society Of America August 9-14, 2015 In Baltimore, Md.
19 Mar 2015 - Get a sense of the people and the work. Several members of the Eel River CZO are profiled here, including students and professors.
25 Jun 2017 - Eel River CZO researchers are featured in a new video at the Lawrence Hall of Science.
22 Nov 2016 - CZOs at AGU 2016: Agenda and award recipients
27 May 2016 - Power spoke on 'Drought, floods, and alternate states of algal-based river food webs in the Thirsty Eel' at the 2016 SFS Annual Meeting.
04 Dec 2015 - Taking the Pulse of the Earth's Surface Systems In September of 2014, Laurel Larsen (UC Berkley), Elizabeth Hajek (Penn State), and others...
10 Nov 2015 - San Francisco's KQED public television features the Eel River and the Southern Sierra CZOs in a production of QUEST, a science and technology...
Expanding the role of reactive transport models in critical zone processes. Li Li, Kate Maher, Alexis Navarre-Sitchler, Jenny Druhan, Christof Meile, Corey Lawrence, Joel Moore, Julia Perdrial, Pamela Sullivan, Aaron Thompson, Lixin Jin, Edward W. Bolton, Susan L. Brantley, William E. Dietrich, K. Ulrich Mayer, Carl I. Steefel, Albert Valocchi, John Zachara, Benjamin Kocar, Jennifer Mcintosh, Benjamin M. Tutolo, Mukesh Kumar, Eric Sonnenthal, Chen Bao, Joe Beisman (2017): Earth-Science Reviews, 165:280-301 Cross-CZO
Climatic, ecophysiological, and phenological controls on plant ecohydrological strategies in seasonally dry ecosystems. Vico, Giulia Thompson, Sally E. Manzoni, Stefano Molini, Annalisa Albertson, John D. Almeida-Cortez, Jarcilene S. Fay, Philip A. Feng, Xue Guswa, Andrew J. Liu, Hu Wilson, Tiffany G. Porporato, Amilcare (2015): Ecohydrology 8(4): 660-681.
The Thirsty Eel: Summer and Winter Flow Thresholds that Tilt the Eel River of Northwestern California from Salmon-Supporting to Cyanobacterially Degraded States. Power, M.E., Bouma-Gregson, K., Higgins, P. and Carlson, S.M. (2015): Copeia 1:200-211.
High Time for Conservation: Adding the Environment to the Debate on Marijuana Liberalization. Carah, J., Howard, J., Thompson, S.E., Short Gianotti, A.G., Bauer, S., Carlson, S.M., Dralle, D.N., Gabriel, M.W., Hulette, L., Johnson, B., Knight, C., Kupferberg, S., Martin, S., Naylor, R., Power, M.E. (2015): BioScience (Advance Access)
A bottom-up control on fresh-bedrock topography under landscapes. Rempe, D.M., Dietrich, W.D. (2014): Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (18): 6576-6581
Designing a network of critical zone observatories to explore the living skin of the terrestrial Earth. Brantley, S.L., McDowell, W.H., Dietrich, W.E., White, T.S., Kumar, P., Anderson, S., Chorover, J., Lohse, K.A., Bales, R.C., Richter, D., Grant, G., and Gaillardet, J. (2017): Earth Surface Dynamics Cross-CZO National
Reviews and syntheses: On the roles trees play in building and plumbing the Critical Zone. Brantley, Susan L., David M. Eissenstat, Jill A. Marshall, Sarah E. Godsey, Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad, Diana L. Karwan, Shirley A. Papuga, Joshua Roering, Todd E. Dawson, Jaivime Evaristo, Oliver Chadwick, Jeffrey J. McDonnell, Kathleen C. Weathers (2017): Biogeosciences Discussions Cross-CZO National
Controls on solute concentration-discharge relationships revealed by simultaneous hydrochemistry observations of hillslope runoff and stream flow: The importance of critical zone structure. Kim, H., W. E. Dietrich, B. M. Thurnhoffer, J. K. B. Bishop, and I. Y. Fung (2017): Water Resour. Res., 53 Cross-CZO
Anomalomermis ephemerophagis n g, n sp (Nematoda: Mermithidae) parasitic in the mayfly Ephemerella maculata Traver (Ephermeroptera: Ephermerellidae) in California, USA. Poinar, G., Walder, L. and Uno, H. (2015): Systematic Parasitology 90(3): 231-236.
Chapter 2 – The Role of Critical Zone Observatories in Critical Zone Science. White T., Brantley S., Banwart S., Chorover J., Dietrich W., Derry L., Lohse K., Anderson S., Aufdendkampe A., Bales R., Kumar P., Richter D., McDowell B. (2015): Developments in Earth Surface Processes 19: 15–78 Cross-CZO National
An international initiative for science in the critical zone. Brantley, S. L., W. E. Dietrich, and S. Banwart (2015): EOS, 96, Published on 5 June 2015 Cross-CZO
The Landscape Evolution Observatory: A large-scale controllable infrastructure to study coupled Earth-surface processes. Pangle L.A., DeLong S.B., Abramson N., Adams J., Barron-Gafford G.A., Breshears D.D., Brooks P.D., Chorover J., Dietrich W.E., Dontsova K., Durcik M., Espeleta J., Ferre T.P.A., Ferriere R., Henderson W., Hunt E.A., Huxman T.E., Millar D., Murphy B., Niu G-Y., Pavao-Zuckerman M., Pelletier J.D., Rasmussen C., Ruiz J., Saleska S., Schaap M., Sibayan M., Troch P.A., Tuller M., van Haren J., Zeng X. (2015): Geomorphology 244: 190-203 Cross-CZO