Dietrich & Lohse, 2014


Common questions of the US NSF–supported Critical Zone Observatories

Dietrich, W.E. and Lohse, K. (2014)
A Guide Prepared By CZO PIs  Cross-CZO National


CZOs are asking common (shared) questions across a diversity of sites and researchers to develop a broad understanding of the evolution and function of the critical zone (CZ).

The work of many CZO’s can accomplish what no one observatory can provide. This is not just because of diversity of sites, but also the diversity of the researchers- who collectively bring the essential observational and theoretical skills and knowledge to these common problems.

General shared questions
  1. What controls CZ properties and processes?
  2. What will be the response of the CZ structure, and its stores and fluxes, to climate and land use change?
  3. How can improved understanding of the CZ be used to enhance ecosystem resilience and sustainability, and restore ecosystem function?
Specific shared questions

The three questions above are too broad for any one CZO to address fully. The NSF-supported CZOs have identified, however, many more focused questions.  These can be narrowed down to 21 common questions that three or more CZO’s have specifically defined in their proposals.  

See the 21 ques​tions and more:



Dietrich, W.E. and Lohse, K. (2014): Common questions of the US NSF–supported Critical Zone Observatories. A Guide Prepared By CZO PIs.

This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.

Associated Files

Common Questions of US CZOs
(191 KB pdf)
Shared research questions (general and specific)