CZO Virtual Institute

The NSF Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) project of the CZO National Office, titled “Crossing the Boundaries of Critical Zone Science with a Virtual Institute”, focuses on promoting interactions among researchers worldwide to develop cross-site science based on a common set of measurements.

The SAVI project aims to develop workshops, support graduate and post-doctoral research primarily on cross-CZO, common measurement-based projects, and further the development of web-based collaboration tools on The project has implemented CZO workshops, a summer interns program and an international scholars program to promote collaboration in and out of the network towards common measurement-based CZ science.

CZO SAVI International Scholars at the University of Western Australia (UWA).

CZO Summer Interns Program

A major goal of the CZO Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) program is to develop the theme of common science and measurements, and include young scientists who will advance CZ science through their careers. The National Sceicne Foundation has provided funding to the Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) project to support graduate students or postgraduate summer interns pursuing research at multiple U.S. CZOs for travel and research-related expenses.

Our 2015 summer interns are Liz Coward (University of Pennslyvania), Elizabeth King (Oregon State University), Kimber Moreland (University of California, Merced) and Christopher Tennant (University of California, Berkeley).

CZO International Scholars Program

In recognition of the global nature of Critical Zone (CZ) science, Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) project provides funding for graduate students to travel to CZO sites or pre-eminent laboratories overseas to further the investigation of the Critical Zone.

Our 2015 international scholars are Madelyn Percy (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Reggie Walters (Boise State University) and Adam Wymore (University of New Hampshire).

Seven U.S. CZ science graduate students also received funding to attend the inaugural Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Soil Science and Climate Change summer school at the University of Western Australia (UWA). The summer school ran from January 29 til February 13, 2015 and included 3 days at UWA, a four-day retreat at the UWA Future Farm, and a five-day facilitated writing retreat at the Albany campus of UWA.

2015 SAVI Workshops

Working groups from the 2014 CZO All Hands Meeting submitted short proposals for workshops based on the following themes: 1) What controls CZ properties and processes? 2) What is the response of CZ structure, stores and fluxes to climate? 3) What is the response of CZ structure, stores and fluxes to land use change? 4) How can understanding of the CZ be used to enhance resiliency and sustainability, and restore ecosystem services? The following five workshops with the questions they posed were selected for funding: 

Concentration-discharge relationships to differences in CZ structure 
and function across the CZO network  
July 20-22 - University of New Hampshire 

What can C/Q teach us about CZ structure and response? More specifically, how does C/Q inform and constrain our understanding of: hydrologic flow paths; solute reservoirs; vegetation interactions; disturbance effects; and reactive transport processes?

CZO Network Biogeochemistry
September 28-29, 2015 - University of California, Riverside
  1. Evaluating the generality of the Walker-Syer’s (1976) model of the fate of phosphorus during pedogensis.
  2. Diversity and function with depth, including relative abundance of reducers vs. oxidizers, and lithotrophic vs. heterotrophic bacteria.
  3. Mycorrhizal impacts and influences on aboveground processes.
CZO microbial ecology intercomparison with cyberinfrastructure-enabled data synthesis
November 16-18, 2015 - Argonne National Laboratory
  1. Synthesizing microbial ecology data from IML, CRB, and SS CZOs.
  2. Delivering new BiG CZ software into the hands of CZO end-users with an intensive training “bootcamp”.
  3. Obtaining feedback on the performance of the BiG CZ software stack for developers.
  4. Developing strategies for broader cross-CZO sampling and synthesis of microbial data.
  5. Exploring opportunities for linking CZO data with non-CZO microbial data by cross-indexing data archives.
  6. Developing international partnerships for global synthesis of CZEN microbial datasets.
Developing the construct of Critical Zone Services

By focusing on the critical zone and critical zone science, articulation of critical zone services can place many ecosystem services in a broader context. This group will develop these ideas into a peer-reviewed publication that promotes the concept of Critical Zone Services as an amplification of the rich literature on Ecosystem Services.

Critical Zone Resiliency To Disturbance: A One Day Early Career Workshop To Develop Testable Hypotheses Using Common X-CZO Measurements
June 13-14 - University of New Hampshire
  1. What determines CZ resiliency across spatial scales from individual sites/observatories to ecoregions?
  2. How can we define and use common measurements to identify locations within the CZ that are resilient (versus vulnerable) to large-scale disturbance, such as global climate change?
  3. How can we use existing climatic and lithologic gradients to predict the capacity of the critical zone to respond to changes in intra- and inter- annual precipitation and evaporative water demand?
  4. How do human activities, which alter energy and mass fluxes, affect critical zone resiliency?

To read about who attended each workshop, what occured and their plan moving forward, click here

International CZO Workshop

Immediately prior to AGU, an International CZO Workshop supported by the SAVI project gathered 47 scientists representing over 20 countries to discuss science questions being considered by the international CZ community. The workshop began with presentations on five CZO networks including SoilTrEC (U.K.), TERENO (Germany), RBV/Critex (France) and U.S. and China CZOs. This was followed by 20 two-minute lightning talks by attendees describing their respective field sites' characteristics and research goals. Jon Chorover of the Catalina-Jemez CZO then spoke to common science questions and measurements that have emerged from the CZO community through various workshops and proposals. After a group discussion, participants broke into working groups on potential research projects spanning their field sites and areas of expertise.

Read more on the CZO International Workshop here

A great selfie at Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Soil Science and Climate Change summer school Photo: David Huber

Collaboration. Photo: Adam Ward


Sue Brantley talking at the Shale Hills CZO. 

Deep CZ salon group photo.

Photo: Alain Plante

Working groups at the International CZO workshop. Photo: Sarah Sharkey

Adam Wymore is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of New Hampshire and is associated with the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory. Adam is an aquatic biogeochemist and his research focuses on the cycling of dissolved organic matter and nutrients (e.g. nitrogen) in streams.