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Overarching research question that guides CZO design

How does variability in climate, lithology and disturbance influence CZ structure and function over long (e.g., landscape evolution) and short (e.g., hydrologic event) time scales?

Goals of the Catalina-Jemez CZO

  • Develop a cross-disciplinary, multi-scale, natural laboratory for collaborative observation and modeling.
  • Measure the effects of climate, lithology, and disturbance variation on Critical Zone structure, function and evolution in the water-limited southwestern US.
  • Focus on environmental gradients within regional watersheds.
  • Develop a predictive-mechanistic understanding of how these systems affect environmental sustainability in a region of rapidly growing population growth and diminishing freshwater supplies.

Urban population growth throughout the southwestern US is sustained largely by water supplies that derive from upland catchments in nearby montane landscapes.  Southwestern mountain belts in Southern Arizona, for example, which vary widely in lithology, are sometimes termed "Sky Islands" because their higher elevations receive more annual precipitation, support greater vegetation biomass and have higher rates of net primary production than the surrounding "sea" of desert semi-arid to arid landscape. Ecosystems and soil development at high elevations in the Southwest also support domestic forestry, range and recreation industries.  Global climate models predict progressive warming and drying of the U.S. Southwest overall, and this is expected to affect the composition and health of ecosystems across the elevation range, e.g., through stress-induced disturbances such as insect outbreaks and wildfire.

Southwestern mountain systems are nonetheless expected to continue to serve as the water supply conduit to growing basin cities, in addition to supporting forestry, range and recreational activities.  The need to understand their capacity to do so in the context of changing climate motivates Catalina-Jemez CZO research.  The quantity and quality of water in upland catchments and receiving metropolitan areas depend on the processes that partition and transform it during its reactive transport through the CZ.  However, the present-day hydrologic, geomorphic and (bio)geochemical behavior of the CZ depends, in turn, on its structure, which has evolved over geological time scales in response to long-term climatic and tectonic forcing.  Therefore, a basic understanding of contemporary CZ behavior requires developing a conceptual model of how it has evolved to its current state, and how it will continue to evolve into the future.  Such evolution includes the formation of hydrologic flow paths, the (bio)geochemical differentiation of the weathering profile, and the production and erosion of soil-mantled hillslopes.  Our research involves field and laboratory based measurements in addition to computational modeling designed to understand how these processes are coupled over hydrologic event and landscape evolution time scales.

 


Gallery

Catalina

Santa Catalina Mountains Photos


Research News

FEATURED NATIONALLY

CZOs at AGU 2019

19 Nov 2019 - A list of CZ-related sessions, abstracts and events at the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting.

FEATURED NATIONALLY

CZ colleagues: Please contact us about proposals for NSF’s CZ Collaborative Network, due 02 Dec 2019

08 Jul 2019 - CZO will end Nov 2020, succeeded by the “CZ Collaborative Network”. Let’s explore how the CZ community can build upon the CZOs via new NSF proposals.

FEATURED

CZOs at AGU 2018

19 Nov 2018 - The 2018 AGU Fall Meeting will be held December 10-14 in Washington, D.C.

FEATURED

NSF Discovery articles focus on the CZOs.

10 May 2018 - The Discoveries section of the National Science Foundation's website on Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs).

FEATURED

NSF News Release: What’s killing trees during droughts? Scientists have new answers.

14 Aug 2017 - Researchers find that carbon starvation and hydraulic failure kill drought-stricken trees.

FEATURED

AGU Horton Research Grant Award

03 Jul 2017 - Ravindra Dwivedi received the prestigious 2017 AGU Horton Research Grant to support his CZO work in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

FEATURED

Post-Wildfire Erosion Can Sculpt Forested Mountains

19 Apr 2016 - Researchers from the UA Santa Catalina Mountains & Jemez River Basin Critical Zone Observatory did before-and-after studies of how severe...

FEATURED

EOS: Bark Beetles Cause Big Tree Die-Offs, but Streams Flow Steadily

10 Mar 2016 - EOS article written by Lily Strelich features research conducted by CZO investigators and their colleagues, which shows that bark beetle epidemics...

FEATURED

The 2016 MG Anderson Award

03 Mar 2016 - The 2016 MG Anderson Award for Outstanding Paper in Hydrological Processes, Wiley is presented to Jemez-Catalina CZO investigators.

FEATURED

EOS Opinion: Understanding Ecosystem Services from a Geosciences Perspective

22 Jan 2016 - Assessment of ecosystem services can be improved by including broader spatial and temporal scales of geosciences perspectives.

FEATURED

Forests Worldwide Vulnerable to Drought, UA Researcher Says

28 Aug 2015 - David Breshears was interviewed by Sara Hammond about forest vulnerability to growing risks of drought and heat-induced die-off. Read and listen...

FEATURED

Jon Chorover to speak at international workshop on hydro-biogeochemical processes

16 Jul 2015 - Jon Chorover of the Santa Catalina Mountains & Jemez River Basin CZO has been invited to talk at the Hydro-Biogeochemical Processes: Mechanisms,...

FEATURED

Soil, Not Dirt: A Digital Journey Connecting Soils, Plants, and Climate by Rebecca Lybrand

08 Jun 2015 - Join Rebecca on an exciting GoPro adventure to study soil in the desert, grasslands, and pine forests of Arizona.

FEATURED

Critical Zone Profiles - Meet the people doing CZO science (Catalina-Jemez CZO)

19 Mar 2015 - Get a sense of the people and the work. Several members of the Catalina-Jemez CZO are profiled here, including students and professors.

FEATURED

Critical Zone Services: Expanding Context, Constraints, and Currency beyond Ecosystem Services

10 Feb 2015 - Critical Zone Services: Expanding Context, Constraints, and Currency beyond Ecosystem Services

FEATURED

Predicting post-wildfire erosion better

08 Dec 2014 - Jon Pelletier and his graduate student Caitlin Orem's research on the post Las Conchas fire erosion was highlighed in the Arizona Daily Star...


White paper of 2017 CZ Science Meeting in Arlington, VA

01 Jan 2018 - New Opportunities for Critical Zone Science Following the June 2017 Arlington Meeting for Critical Zone Science (hosted by CZO), a white booklet...

CZOs at AGU 2017

05 Dec 2017 - Information on CZO award recipients, events, presentations, etc. at the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting.

Water Resources Research Special Collection: Concentration-discharge relations in the critical zone

30 Oct 2017 - Water Resources Research published a new special collection in September 2017 featuring concentration-discharge research from multiple CZOs.

The frontier beneath our feet — an AGU commentary on the critical zone

21 Apr 2017 - AGU has published a collection of commentaries highlighting the important role Earth and space science research plays in society.

2017 CZO Webinar Series: Critical Zone and Society

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

More News >


Example Publications

FEATURED

Vegetation source water identification using isotopic and hydrometric observations from a subhumid mountain catchment. Dwivedi R., Eastoe C., Knowles J.F., Wright W.E., Hamann L., Minor R., Mitra B., Meixner T., McIntosh J., Ferre P.A.T., Castro C., Niu G.-Y., Barron‐Gafford G.A., Abramson N., Papuga S.A., Stanley M., Hu J., Chorover J. (2020): Ecohydrology 13(1): e2167

FEATURED NATIONALLY

Resolving Deep Critical Zone Architecture in Complex Volcanic Terrain. Moravec B.G., White A.M., Root R.A, Sanchez A., Olshansky Y., Paras B.K., Carr B., McIntosh J., Pelletier J.D., Rasmussen C., Holbrook W.S., Chorover J. (2020): Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 125(1): e2019JF005189 Cross-CZO

FEATURED

Mountain‐Block Recharge: A Review of Current Understanding. Markovich K.H, Manning A.H., Condon L.E., McIntosh J.C. (2019): Water Resources Research (online)

FEATURED

Allometric relationships for Quercus gambelii and Robinia neomexicana for biomass estimation following disturbance. Krofcheck D.J., Litvak M.E., Hurteau M.D. (2019): Ecosphere 10(10): e02905

FEATURED NATIONALLY

Distinct stores and the routing of water in the deep critical zone of a snow-dominated volcanic catchment. White A., Moravec B., McIntosh J., Olshansky Y., Paras B., Sanchez R.A., Ferré T.P.A., Meixner T., and Chorover J. (2019): Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 23(11): 4661-4683

FEATURED NATIONALLY

Soil Fluid Biogeochemical Response to Climatic Events. Olshansky Y., Knowles J.F., Barron‐Gafford G.A., Rasmussen C., Abramson N., Chorover J. (2019): Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 124(9): 2866-2882

FEATURED

Ecosystem-bedrock interaction changes nutrient compartmentalization during early oxidative weathering. Zaharescu D.G., Burghelea C.I., Dontsova K., Presler J.K., Hunt E.A., Domanik K.J., Amistadi M.K., Sandhaus S., Munoz E.N., Gaddis E.E., Galey M., Vaquera-Ibarra M.O., Palacios-Menendez M.A., Castrejón-Martinez R., Roldán-Nicolau E.C., Li K., Maier R.M., Reinhard C.T., Chorover J. (2019): Scientific Reports 9: 15006

FEATURED

Allometric relationships between primary size measures and sapwood area for six common tree species in snow-dependent ecosystems in the Southwest United States. Mitra B., Papuga S.A., Alexander M.R., Swetnam T.L., Abramson N. (2019): Journal of Forestry Research (online)

FEATURED

Long-Term (1986–2015) Crop Water Use Characterization over the Upper Rio Grande Basin of United States and Mexico Using Landsat-Based Evapotranspiration. Senay G.B., Schauer M., Velpuri N.M., Singh R.K., Kagone S., Friedrichs M., Litvak M.E., and Douglas-Mankin K.R. (2019): Remote Sensing 11(13): 1587

FEATURED

Critical Zone Science in the Anthropocene: Opportunities for biogeographic and ecological theory and praxis to drive earth science integration. Minor J., Pearl J.K., Barnes M.L., Colella T.R., Murphy P.C., Mann S., Barron-Gafford G.A. (2019): Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment (online)

FEATURED NATIONALLY

Ecological and genomic attributes of novel bacterial taxa that thrive in subsurface soil horizons. Brewer, Tess E., Emma L. Aronson, Keshav Arogyaswamy, Sharon A. Billings, Jon K. Botthoff, Ashley N. Campbell, Nicholas C. Dove, Dawson Fairbanks, Rachel E. Gallery, Stephen C. Hart, Jason Kaye, Gary King, Geoffrey Logan, Kathleen A. Lohse, Mia R. Maltz, Emilio Mayorga, Caitlin O’Neill, Sarah M. Owens, Aaron Packman, Jennifer Pett-Ridge, Alain F. Plante, Daniel D. Richter, Whendee L. Silver, Wendy H. Yang, Noah Fierer (2019): mBio Oct 2019, 10 (5) e01318-19 Cross-CZO National

FEATURED

Drought supersedes warming in determining volatile and tissue defenses of piñon pine (Pinus edulis). Trowbridge A.M., Stoy P.C., Adams H.D., Law D.J., Breshears D.D., Helmig D., and Monson R.K. (2019): Environmental Research Letters 14(6): 065006

FEATURED

Rare earth elements (REY) sorption on soils of contrasting mineralogy and texture. Dinali G.S., Root R.A., Amistadi M.K., Chorover J., Lopes G., Guilherme L.R.G. (2019): Environment International 128: 279-291

FEATURED

Dependence of Aspen Stands on a Subsurface Water Subsidy: Implications for Climate Change Impacts. Love D.M., Venturas M.D., Sperry J.S., Brooks P.D., Pettit J.L., Wang Y., Anderegg W.R.L., Tai X., Mackay D.S. (2019): Water Resources Research 55(3): 1833-1848

FEATURED

Mechanisms of a coniferous woodland persistence under drought and heat. McDowell N.G., Grossiord C., Adams H.D., Pinzón-Navarro S., Mackay D.S., Breshears D.D., Allen C.D., Borrego I., Dickman L.T., Collins A., Gaylord M., McBranch N., Pockman W.T., Vilagrosa A., Aukema B., Goodsman D., and Xu C. (2019): Environmental Research Letters 14(4): 045014

FEATURED

Bioclimatic Envelopes for Individual Demographic Events Driven by Extremes: Plant Mortality from Drought and Warming. Law D.J., Adams H.D., Breshears D.D., Cobb N.S., Bradford J.B., Zou C.B., Field J.P., Gardea A.A., Williams A.P., and Huxman T.E. (2019): International Journal of Plant Sciences 180(1): 53-62

FEATURED

A coupled microscopy approach to assess the nano-landscape of weathering. Lybrand, Rebecca A., Jason C. Austin, Jennifer Fedenko, Rachel E. Gallery, Erin Rooney, Paul A. Schroeder, Dragos G. Zaharescu, & Odeta Qafoku (2019): Scientific Reports 9: Article number 5377 Cross-CZO

FEATURED

Hydrologic functioning of the deep critical zone and contributions to streamflow in a high‐elevation catchment: Testing of multiple conceptual models. Dwivedi R., Meixner T., McIntosh J.C., Ferré P.A.T., Eastoe C.J., Niu G.-Y., Minor R.L., Barron-Gafford G.A., Chorover J. (2019): Hydrological Processes 33(4): 476-494

FEATURED

The effects of a catastrophic forest fire on the biomass of submerged stream macrophytes. Thompson V.F., Marshall D.L., Reale J.K., Dahm C.N. (2019): Aquatic Botany 152: 36-42

FEATURED

Understanding Critical Zone Evolution through Predicting the Three-Dimensional Soil Chemical Properties of a Small Forested Catchment. Shepard C., Schaap M.G., Chorover J., Rasmussen C. (2018): Soil Science Society of America Journal 82(6): 1538-1550

FEATURED NATIONALLY

Reevaluating growing season length controls on net ecosystem production in evergreen conifer forests. Barnard, D.M., Knowles, J.F., Barnard, H.R., Goulden, M.L., Hu, J., Litvak, M.E., Molotch, N.P. (2018): Scientific Reports 8(1): 17973 Cross-CZO

FEATURED

Subsurface Pore Water Contributions to Stream Concentration-Discharge Relations Across a Snowmelt Hydrograph. Olshansky Y., White A.M., Moravec B.G., McIntosh J., Chorover J. (2018): Frontiers in Earth Science 6: 181

FEATURED

Signatures of Obliquity and Eccentricity in Soil Chronosequences. Shepard C., Pelletier J.D., Schaap M.G., Rasmussen C. (2018): Geophysical Research Letters 45(20): 11147–11153

FEATURED

Implicit assumptions of conceptual diagrams in environmental science and best practices for their illustration. Fandel C.A., Breshears D.D., and McMahon E.E. (2018): Ecosphere 9(1): e02072

FEATURED

Disturbance Alters the Relative Importance of Topographic and Biogeochemical Controls on Microbial Activity in Temperate Montane Forests. Lybrand R.A., Gallery R.E., Trahan N.A., Moore D.J.P. (2018): Forests 9(2): 97

FEATURED

A considerable fraction of soil-respired CO2 is not emitted directly to the atmosphere. Sánchez-Cañete E.P., Barron-Gafford G.A. & Chorover J. (2018): Scientific Reports 8: 13518

FEATURED NATIONALLY

A net ecosystem carbon budget for snow dominated forested headwater catchments: linking water and carbon fluxes to critical zone carbon storage. Perdrial J., Brooks P.D., Swetnam T., Lohse K.A., Rasmussen C., Litvak M., Harpold A.A., Zapata-Rios X., Broxton P., Mitra B., Meixner M., Condon K., Huckle D., Stielstra C., Vázquez-Ortega A., Lybrand R., Holleran M., Orem C., Pelletier J., Chorover J. (2018): Biogeochemistry 138{3): 225–243 Cross-CZO

FEATURED

Beyond clay: towards an improved set of variables for predicting soil organic matter content. Rasmussen C., Heckman K., Wieder W.R., Keiluweit M., Lawrence C.R., Berhe A.A., Blankinship J.C., Crow S.E., Druhan J.L., Hicks Pries C.E., Marin-Spiotta E., Plante A.F., Schädel C., Schimel J.P., Sierra C.A., Thompson A., Wagai R. (2018): Biogeochemistry 137(3): 297–306 Cross-CZO

FEATURED

Prevalence and magnitude of groundwater use by vegetation: a global stable isotope meta-analysis. Jaivime Evaristo and Jeffrey J. McDonnell (2017): Scientific Reports 7 Cross-CZO National


A correlative bimodal surface imaging method to assess hyphae-rock interactions. Qafoku, Odeta, Rebecca A. Lybrand, Vaithiyalingam Shutthanandan, Rachel E. Gallery, Jason C. Austin, Paul A. Schroeder, Jennifer Fedenko, Erin Rooney, and Dragos G. Zaharescu (2019): Microscopy and Microanalysis, 25(S2), 2436-2437 Cross-CZO

Hillslope hydrology in global change research and Earth system modeling. Fan, Y., Clark, M., Lawrence, D. M., Swenson, S., Band, L. E., Brantley, S. L., P. D. Brooks, W. E. Dietrich, A. Flores, G. Grant, J. W. Kirchner, D. S. Mackay, J. J. McDonnell, P. C. D. Milly, P. L. Sullivan, C. Tague, H. Ajami, N. Chaney, A. Hartmann, P. Hazenberg, J. McNamara, J. Pelletier, J. Perket, E. Rouholahnejad‐Freund, T. Wagener, X. Zeng, E. Beighley, J. Buzan, M. Huang, B. Livneh, B. P. Mohanty, B. Nijssen, M. Safeeq, C. Shen, W. van Verseveld, J. Volk, D. Yamazaki (2019): Water Resources Research, vol 55 Cross-CZO

Reassessing the dissolved molybdenum isotopic composition of ocean inputs: The effect of chemical weathering and groundwater. King, E.K. and Pett-Ridge, J.C. (2018): Geology 46 (11): 955-958 Cross-CZO National

Interdisciplinary Teaching about Earth and the Environment for a Sustainable Future Book Chapter: Implementing and Assessing InTeGrate Critical Zone Science Materials in an Undergraduate Geoscience Program. Ashlee Dere, Carol Engelmann, Timothy White, Adam Wymore, Adam Hoffman, James Washburne, Martha Conklin (2018): Springer Cross-CZO National

Controlled Experiments of Hillslope Coevolution at the Biosphere 2 Landscape Evolution Observatory: Toward Prediction of Coupled Hydrological, Biogeochemical, and Ecological Change. Volkmann T.H.M., Sengupta A., Pangle L.A., Dontsova K., Barron-Gafford G.A., Harman C.J., Niu G.-Y., Meredith L.K., Abramson N., Meira Neto A.A., Wang Y., Adams J.R., Breshears D.D., Bugaj A., Chorover J., Cueva A., DeLong S.B., Durcik M., Ferre T.P.A., Hunt E.A., Huxman T.E., Kim M., Maier R.M., Monson R.K., Pelletier J.D., Pohlmann M., Rasmussen C., Ruiz J., Saleska S.R., Schaap M.G., Sibayan M., Tuller M., van Haren J.L.M., Zeng X. and Troch P.A. (2018): in: Hydrology of Artificial and Controlled Experiments (eds. Jiu-Fu Liu and Wei-Zu Gu), IntechOpen, pp. 25-74

Why Do Large‐Scale Land Surface Models Produce a Low Ratio of Transpiration to Evapotranspiration?. Chang L.-L., Dwivedi R., Knowles J.F., Fang Y.-H., Niu G.-Y., Pelletier J.D., Rasmussen C., Durcik M., Barron‐Gafford G.A., Meixner T. (2018): Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 123(17): 9109-9130

Controls on Soil Organic Carbon Partitioning and Stabilization in the California Sierra Nevada. Rasmussen C., Throckmorton H., Liles G., Heckman K., Meding S., and Horwath W.R. (2018): Soil Systems 2(3): 41 Cross-CZO

More Publications >