Grant: $4,350,000 - National Science Foundation - Sep. 2, 2009
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Award Description: Transformative Behavior of Energy, Water and Carbon in the Critical Zone: An Observatory to Quantify Linkages among Ecohydrology, Biogeochemistry, and Landscape Evolution We are developing an interdisciplinary observatory in the southwestern US that will improve our fundamental understanding of the function, structure and co-evolution of biota, soils, and landforms that comprise the Critical Zone (CZ). The observatory is designed as a natural laboratory for the earth science community to test hypotheses related to CZ function in relation to climate and water cycle variation. We posit that CZ systems organize and evolve in response to open system fluxes of energy and mass that can be quantified from point to watershed scales. These fluxes include meteoric CZ inputs of radiation, water, and carbon that are modulated by surficial biota to produce fluids and biogeochemical components that undergo biotic and abiotic transformation during gradient-driven transport. We hypothesize that the coupling of physical, chemical and biological processes is related predictably to the timing and magnitude of these fluxes. Therefore, our CZ Observatory (CZO) is designed to examine the impacts of space-time variability in energy and water flux on coupled processes along two well-constrained climate gradients. The first is on rhyolitic parent material in the Jemez River Basin of northern New Mexico (JRB) and the second is on granite and schist bedrock within the Santa Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona (SCM). Measurement, modeling, and experimentation at sites that vary in parent rock, elevation, aspect, slope, soil development, and vegetation will enable quantification of the feedbacks between energy and mass fluxes (driven by chemical and physical gradients) and measured components of CZ structure. Our team has developed an iterative modeling and measurement strategy, and a management structure that fosters integration among disciplines. The JRB-SCM CZO is organized around broad questions that require an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach. These questions include: How does variability in energy input and related mass flux influence CZ structure and function? How do feedbacks between landscape evolution and the cycling of water and carbon alter short- and long-term CZ development? To identify the couplings among physical, chemical, and biological processes, our research integrates three cross-cutting science themes that are multi-disciplinary and multi-scale: Ecohydrology and Hydrologic Partitioning, Subsurface Biogeochemistry, and Landscape Evolution. We are employing an integrated, process-based modeling approach to (i) identify optimal sites for measuring structure and process, (ii) refine hypotheses developed through field-based observation and measurements, (iii) explore feedbacks and emergent system behaviors, and (iv) develop transfer functions that can be used to relate system behavior across scales and modes of observation. Discoveries made at the JRB-SCM CZO will improve our ability to predict CZ response to changes in climate and land cover. Such information is immediately useful to regional resource managers and will ultimately inform broader-scale decision making. We will coordinate closely with other CZOs to support data collection, storage, and dissemination of results. Our education and outreach activities are built upon highly effective educational efforts conceived and cultivated at UA, and they are linked to related efforts of science centers active in the region. We are developing a range of products and activities for K?16 students, the general public, and stakeholders, including summer Observatory field experiences for local high school and undergraduate students, graduate courses, and field camps in earth science. We invite new investigators throughout the global earth sciences community to conduct novel and collaborative research at the JRB-SCM CZO
Project Description: See Award Description.
Jobs Summary: N/A (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Sep. 2, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.