On October 1, 2013, the National Science Foundation awarded $4.9M to campus to establish a Critical Zone Observatory (CZ0) at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve under the direction of Professor Bill Dietrich. The Eel River CZO will build on the already amazing datasets developed thanks to the Keck Hydrowatch Center and the legacy of environmental and biological research at the reserve.
An excerpt from the project's proposal, "We propose an Eel River Critical Zone Observatory that is rooted in intensive field monitoring in the critical zone that follows watershed currencies (water, solutes, gasses, biota, sediment, energy, and momentum) through a subsurface physical environment and microbial ecosystem of the critical zone into the terrestrial ecosystem, up into the atmosphere, and out through drainage networks to the coastal ocean. Soil, forest, and riverine ecosystems will interact with these currencies, mediating the delivery of nutrients to the sea. CZO investigations will co-evolve with a synthesis model that mechanistically links the critical zone to atmospheric processes, watershed routing, ecosystems dynamics, stream flow, and coastal processes in order to investigate fundamental questions and to provide a modeling tool for management issues. Our observatory will operate at four distinct scales: the hillslope (our critical zone workshop), the stream reach (where critical zone currencies dictate water supply, extent of wetted channel, and the emergent aquatic ecosystem), the whole watershed scale (nearly 10,000 km2), and the regional scale (>13,000 km2), and will emphasize the interaction of atmospheric and terrestrial processes that dictate the co-evolution of these linked systems."