2019 AGU International Critical Zone Network-of-Networks

Early Career Workshop - December 8, 2019


Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs) are instrumented field sites for monitoring hydrological fluxes, energy matter, and biogeochemical cycles - from bedrock to canopy, across terrestrial and aquatic interfaces, and across climatic and hydrobiogeochemical gradients. Networks of CZOs and their Watershed equivalents have been established in many countries, including in the US, France, Germany, and Canada. Critical zones and watersheds are “human habitats”, important for sustaining basic human needs such as water, food, and energy as well as crucial for the ecosystem services they provide. The future behavior of these systems is uncertain due to changing environmental conditions as well as rapidly growing population, urbanization, industrialization and irrigation for food production. A systematic approach is needed to explore how critical zone networks are tackling the challenge of understanding and predicting their systems, including associated questions, tools and approaches. This one day workshop presents such a platform to formally bring together an international cohort of early career scientists from across these CZO/Watershed networks to initiate this systematic approach.




This workshop will bring together an international cohort of early career scientists to advance modes of collaboration across CZ networks, providing a foundation to do together what would be impossible to do alone. This will set the stage for how CZ science is done over the coming decades. Participants will learn about facilities/capabilities across networks, interoperable models, and cross-cutting science questions, including societal challenges involved in studying CZ. Participants will identify questions that can only be addressed by working across observatories, by leveraging existing capabilities and adding new dimensions. Explicit goals of this workshop are to:

  1. Facilitate cross-site and cross-network knowledge by synthesizing the scientific drivers, properties and processes studied, and instrumentation and modelling approaches used at different international CZO networks.
  2. Identify a subset of prioritized grand challenge questions drawn from recent lists developed through several community efforts (IAHS, AGU Hydrology, US CZO, US DOE Subsurface Biogeochemistry) and their crosswalk with a network of international field observatories.
  3. Launch an international early career network that will spearhead the next generation of cross-cutting CZ research to address prioritized grand challenges, promote open science approaches, and formulate recommendations to tackle the sharing of data, methods and ideas.
  4. Advance the collective knowledge by training attendees in topics such as: data discoverability, use of automated sensors, and “simple”, flexible models that require few parameters that can be used across this international network to address long standing CZ questions.
  5. Using workshop as platform to help facilitate coordinated, transdisciplinary investigations of the critical zone, identify next steps for the workshop. Straightforward examples could entail planning for subsequent collaboration efforts, white papers, or workshops. Longer-term plans could entail building a resource of lessons learned and best practices for new site development, establishing norms for open science and data sharing, and facilitating interactions between modelers, data scientists, and data generators.