NASA MODIS natural color image of the central and southern Sierra Nevada collected 2 April 2016.
On coast: cloud cover over San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas.
In mountains: Visible major river systems on the western side of the Sierra Nevada from north to south are Stanisalaus,Tuolumne, Merced, San Joaquin, Kings, Kaweah, Tule, and Kern. Mono Lake is East of the Tuolumne River.

The goals of the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory’s outreach and education program are:

1) Foster field site and data use among the critical zone research community

in order to create new knowledge about Earth’s critical zone and advance Earth systems models

2) Inform ecosystem and resource management decisions

for the security and resilience of resources and societies

3) Increase public interest in critical zone science

by educating the next generation of STEM professionals and reaching out to learners of all ages

K-12, higher education, and public activities over recent years have included undergraduate critical zone course curriculum development and instruction, critical-zone activity trainings with mountain county teachers, multiple Master Gardener trainings using SSCZO findings, and print and online news coverage.

We serve as a platform and resource for the research community. Scientists visit our sites to collect samples for both independent and collaborative projects.

SSCZO staff and investigators also engage with local, state, and federal officials; and regional watershed and forest management groups.





SSCZO Researchers:  Submit your Education and Outreach activities for our reports and numbers!

Billy Mayse and Jeff Laird (left and right, respectively, both 2013 summer staff) quiz students on local wildlife that are dependent on streams and other waterbodies. 

The 2013 summer field trip to the Southern Sierra CZO Providence site was well attended. Matt Meadows explains the mathematical theory of eddy covariance flux towers, where gas analyzers track differences in the composition of individual packets of air. 

Researchers strike a metal plate on the ground to start seismic waves along a >300 m transect. Geophones strung out on that transect track the wave response. 

Elementary school students from the Sierra foothill region test soil texture in April 2016.


SSCZO - Science Days

Every year, SSCZO presents to hundreds of grade school students as part of Southern California Edison's Science Days in Shaver Lake. At the 2013 event, Southern Sierra staff presented on how the water cycle impacts local wildlife, and discussed several special local species with more than 500 students. Students, grades K-8 from 3 local schools, also learned about forest products, birds, and other topics at the other stations. Education and Outreach Coordinator Erin Stacy presented at all three days, but new summer employees also had a chance in front of the students. 

In May and June of 2012, SSCZO staff participated in the Southern California Edison Science Days. Elementary and middle school classes traveled to Camp Edison (outside Shaver Lake) and visited stations set up to teach about nature and science. The event theme in 2012 focused on plants. SSCZO staff facilitated an activity describing the water cycle in and around a single tree.

In 2011, the SCE Science Days theme was water. Southern Sierra CZO colleagues gave a presentation on hydrologic cycle and how researchers use various instruments to measure the water cycle.

SSCZO - 2011 field trip

This July 2011 outing allowed stakeholders and the public to see the cutting-edge research being conducted at the site. Five congressional staff and 2 state senate staff members attended, along with representatives of several local organizations. 

With SSCZO researchers Roger Bales, Matt Meadows and Carolyn Hunsaker, attendees toured the Providence flux tower, Critical Zone Tree-1, and meadow instrumentation, all located in subcatchment P301

SSCZO - CART Spring 2013 student group

The Spring 2013 student group from the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART). Six students from CART designed and exectued a research project looking at differences in snow depth and density in relation to trees (including slope aspect, cardinal direction from tree trunk and tree canopy). The students learned how to use a federal snow sampler, and to dig a snow pit for refined snow density analysis. Two trips to the CZO Providence site offered the students onsite experience with CZO staff Matt Meadows and Erin Stacy and CART teacher Steve Wilson. Students will present final work in May. 

Associated Files

Agenda, 2013 Annual Meeting
(23 KB docx)
Agenda, information on discussion topics, and potential accommodations.

Education/Outreach News


2017 CZO Webinar Series: Critical Zone and Society

06 Apr 2017 - 2017 CZO Webinar Series: Critical Zone and Society.


NSF: Dust contributes valuable nutrients to Sierra Nevada forest ecosystems

28 Mar 2017 - NSF Press Release: New research finding provides insight into role dust may play as ecosystems change


K-12 Soil Science Teacher Resources

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Southern Sierra CZO Videos

15 Dec 2016 - Onward California - University of California television spots showcase Southern Sierra CZO research


NY Times: Sierra Nevada Snow Won’t End California’s Thirst

11 Apr 2016 - New York Times reporter, Henry Fountain spoke with Southern Sierra CZO PIs Roger Bales and Martha Conklin and investigtor Mohammad Safeeq as they...


“Natural Inquirer” education journal features study by Southern Sierra researchers

01 Apr 2016 - A study by Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory researchers was featured in a recent issue of Natural Inquirer, a middle school...

Gobi Desert Dust Helps Sustain California’s Sierra Nevada

28 Mar 2017 - A team of researchers found that dust provides a much greater amount of nutrients to vegetation in the Sierra Nevada than previously thought.

Putting Knowledge into Action: Critical Zone Science Course Visits Observatory Research Sites

21 Dec 2016 - Exploring the Critical Zone Observatory, undergraduates from UC Merced put their knowledge of soil science into action conducting field surveys.

Pushing the Limits on Water Isotope Measurement:  Lawrence Livermore and UC Merced

20 Dec 2016 - Lawrence Livermore and UC Merced researchers are tracking water through the critical zone using cutting-edge technology and new collection methods.

Critical Zone Q&A with researcher Adrian Harpold

19 Oct 2016 - University of Nevada Reno's Adrian Harpold reflects on his past and present time researching at Critical Zone Observatories.

Shale Hills CZO hosts Jorden Hayes for All-Hands 2016

16 May 2016 - Jorden Hayes (Southern Sierra CZO) was an invited speaker and visitor to the Shale Hills CZO All-Hands meeting in May 2016

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