The Earth’s Critical Zone (CZ) is the terrestrial portion of the continents ranging from the top of the vegetative canopy down through soil and bedrock to the lowest extent of freely circulating groundwater. The primary objective of CZ science is to characterize and understand how the reciprocal interactions among rock, soil, water, air and terrestrial organisms influence the Earth as a habitable environment. Thus it is a highly multidisciplinary science that incorporates the biological, hydrological, geological and atmospheric sciences and provides a holistic approach to teaching Earth system science. Here we share highlights from a full-semester university curriculum that introduces upper-division Environmental Science, Geology, Hydrology and Earth Science students to CZ science. We emphasize how a CZ framework is appropriate to teach concepts across the scientific disciplines, concepts of sustainability, and how CZ science serves as a useful approach to solving humanities' grand challenges.
Wymore, A.; White, T.S.; Dere, A.L.D.; Hoffman, A.; Washburne, J.C.; Conklin, M.H. (2016): Critical Zone Science as a Multidisciplinary Framework for Teaching Earth Science and Sustainability. Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, December 2016. Abstract ED13E-0954..