The Dryland CZ team aims to quantify and predict dryland carbon budgets across land-use and climatic gradients.

About Us

Our project centers around the roles of pedogenic carbonates in (1) vadose zone water dynamics, (2) recharge to the water table, and (3) nutrient cycling in typical dryland landscapes, piedmont, playa, and irrigated agricultural fields. We will explore these questions using a comprehensive set of tools including eddy covariance towers, deep CZ drilling, hydrogeophysical surveys, soil and hydrologic sensors, isotopic analysis, synchrotron, geochemical proxies, and genetic sequencing. These efforts build on, and will contribute to, the rich collection of historical data, knowledge, and models at our four primary field sites: the Jornada LTER, the Reynolds Creek CZO, a USDA-ARS site in Kimberly, ID, and irrigated agricultural sites along the Rio Grande valley in Texas.

We aim to apply the holistic critical zone approach and investigate dryland functions and services in the context of global carbon cycles, complementing existing ecological and agricultural network science efforts in LTER, LTAR, NEON, and others.

Our multi-organization team includes two universities: University of Texas El Paso and Boise State University, and three USDA-ARS research sites: the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed and Kimberly sites in Idaho, and the Jornada Experimental Range in New Mexico.

What are Drylands?

Drylands are one of the largest biomes on earth, covering ~45% of Earth’s terrestrial surface, and are among the most sensitive to climate variability, land use change, and other human activities. As a result, dryland environments face significant hydrological challenges, ranging from declines in soil moisture and groundwater tables, to shifts in the dominant vegetation species. Furthermore, human population growth and food demand are promoting the conversion of natural drylands to agricultural areas, and the extensive irrigation required alters fluxes of nutrients, salts, and carbon in unknown ways.