Melissa Thaw, a doctoral student at the University of California, Merced, is studying how water moves through the soil and where trees and shrubs are taking up water in the Sierra National Forest. She is focusing on the transition zone between rainfall and snow, which will be pushed higher into the mountains as the climate warms. (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Building Understanding of the Critical Zone

Our lives depend upon what happens in the Critical Zone. All life on land depends upon what happens in the Critical Zone. Yet, what happens in the Critical Zone is not broadly understood. Indeed, most people have never heard of the Critical Zone or of Critical Zone Science. We aim to change that. Building broad understanding of Critical Zone processes for the public, and for both scientists and future scientists are the primary goals of our Critical Zone education and outreach programs.

Training Interdisciplinary CZ Scientists

Through research and education opportunities associated with each CZO, cross-CZO scientific endeavors, and annual meetings, we engage young scientists in Critical Zone science, developing a new cadre of future CZO leadership. The necessity of understanding Critical Zone processes globally was recognized early in the development of CZOs, and through international partnerships, U.S. graduate students have benefited their home CZOs as well as their personal career pursuits through travel to European labs and field sites to engage in collaborative learning and research.

Sharing with the Public

The CZOs offer a great opportunity for the Earth sciences community to explain to the public how hypotheses are tested and experiments are conducted, as well as to share exciting scientific results and their societal relevance.

E/O highlights handout

For AGU 2018, we've assembled a two-page document with examples of CZO education-outreach activities.
   See the handout

E/O Contacts

Don Haas
Place-based Earth Science Education, Teacher Professional Development, & Curriculum Development

Tim White
CZO National Office Coordinator

CZO Virtual Institute

The CZO Virtual Institute is part of NSF's Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI). It 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.

Associated Files

CZO Education-Outreach handout (Low Res)
(744 KB pdf)
Two pages, low resolution for the web

CZO Education-Outreach handout (High Res)
(14 MB pdf)
Two pages, high resolution for printing

National Blogs

More Posts >

Education/Outreach News


Movie: Feature on the German - Chilean Earthshape CZ project

28 Oct 2019 (National) - Watch a new movie featuring the German - Chilean Earthshape project entitled "The Skin of the Earth: where Life meets Rocks."


Feature-Length Documentary: The Education of Bruno Latour: From the CZ to the Anthropocene

07 May 2019 (Calhoun) - April 15, 2019 Franklin Humanities Institute “The Education of Bruno Latour: From the Critical Zone to the Anthropocene”...

Penn State students, citizen scientists take snapshot of Shaver’s Creek

11 Nov 2019 (Shale Hills) - Penn State researchers and citizen scientists took a Snapshot of the Shaver's Creek watershed in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory Hosts SciWri19 Field Tour

29 Oct 2019 (Shale Hills) - Members of the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory gave a tour of the CZO to nearly 30 science writers during the SciWri19 conference he

The Luquillo LTER/CZO Schoolyard Data Jam 2019

04 Sep 2019 (Luquillo) - The Luquillo LTER/CZO Schoolyard Data Jam 2019 was succesfully concluded Friday May 17th. Photos from the poster session and student created...


Field trip of Penn State students to the Calhoun, 6/7/2019

21 Aug 2019 (Calhoun) - Dan Markewitz and Dan Richter led a field trip on June 6-7, 2019 in the rain (perhaps 3") across the Calhoun CZO with Penn State students.  We...

More News >

Education/Outreach Events

More Events >

National CZO Twitter Feed