Earth’s critical zone spans from the top of the tree canopy to the depths of the subsurface. Researchers across the world study instrumented critical zone observatories and equivalent watershed sites to examine hydrological fluxes, energy matter, and biogeochemical cycles for insights into how factors like land use and climate change are affecting Earth systems.
Now EESA researchers with expertise in hydrology, biogeochemistry, climate science, and geophysics have teamed up with colleagues across the world to develop, organize, and advance modes of collaboration across CZ networks through an effort called International Critical Zone Network-of-Networks. EESA Research Scientist Bhavna Arora is leading the effort with peer early-career researchers James Stegen, Pamela L. Sullivan, Adam Wymore, Sylvain Kuppel, Jannis Groh, Christopher Wellen, and Claire Oswald who represent academic and scientific institutions such as Institute of Research for Development, France to Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany. Later this month, the group will launch the first of two webinar series designed to enhance collaboration and integration across different international critical zone observatories and watershed sites.
“Very little is understood about how population growth, urbanization, and industrialization are affecting Earth’s critical zones and watersheds, let alone how climate change will leave its imprint,” Arora said. “Our goal in forming the international early career cohort is to provide a foundation to do together what would be impossible to do alone.”
The goals of the International Critical Zone Network-to-Network program are to accelerate the process of scientific discovery and prepare the next generation of Critical Zone scientists. With strategic linkages among DOE watershed sites, US NSF critical zone observatories, and complementary networks abroad, this network of early-career scientists is aiming to expedite and facilitate the sharing of data, tools, insights, and models beyond individual sites and networks.
Arora points to one example of tool sharing: AI/machine learning approaches are being used for microbial datasets by researchers from very different research backgrounds. Others are sharing insights on the similarity and diversity of the impact of precipitation variability on ecohydrological processes within montane environments.
“What our International Critical Zone Network-of-Networks has done so far is build relationships with different communities and networks. This foundation holds the potential to transform our ability to address complex critical zone questions and to develop transferable insights and consequential solutions.
This first webinar series will provide an overview of the different Critical zone/watershed sites, followed by a discussion of where synergies exist and where they are most needed to respond to the challenges of understanding and predicting such systems. The second series will focus on existing tools and transformative approaches for integration and synthesis including but not limited to AI/machine learning.
Several individuals from the Department of Energy (DOE) will participate as speakers in the upcoming seminar series that takes place every Tuesday starting August 24. Learn more or register here.