ARCHIVED CONTENT: In December 2020, the CZO program was succeeded by the Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZ Net) ×

Annual Activities

(BcCZO-II) 2015 (year 2)

Project Activities, Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory 

K-12 outreach

With CU’s Science Discovery, we offer an Earth Systems Science STEM workshop for students and teachers (in 1-hour, half-day or full day formats), a 5-day summer camp for middle school students, a 5-day summer research experience for high school students, and a 3- day teacher professional development course. Total numbers for the period June 2014-June 2015 are as follows:

  • 1st-12th Grade Learners: 679
  • College-Aged Learners: 7
  • K-12 Teachers and Professionals: 47
  • Total Contact Time: 2226.5 hours


  • 2 Science Explorers and STEM Workshops
  • 20 Classroom Presentations
  • 3 Teacher Professional Development Opportunities/Workshops
  • 2 Science Discovery Summer Camp Programs

BcCZO faculty and researchers who contributed to Science Discovery programs: Bob Anderson, Eric Winchell, Hallie Adams, Sheila Murphy, Melissa Foster, Suzanne Anderson

Post-doc training

BcCZO Post-doctoral Fellow Dave Barnard arrived in Boulder in January 2015 for a two-year fellowship. He is co-mentored by Holly Barnard and Noah Molotch, and has met with each of them on a regular basis for science and career advising. In addition, PI Suzanne Anderson has met with Dave both formally and informally during his tenure.

REU program

A pilot REU program run in summer 2014 on supplement funds to BcCZO and support from the CIRES Director’s Fund launched a program called RECCS: Research Experience for Community College Students. CIRES staff Lesley Smith and Anne Gold used that pilot program to craft a successful REU Site proposal (NSF1461281, REU site: Research Experience for Community College Students (RECCS) in Critical Zone Science). BcCZO is supporting the REU site through salary for administrative staff (Jennifer Taylor), and supplying mentors for about half of the 10 participants. BcCZO faculty and grad students mentoring REU students in 10 summer 2015 are: Bob Anderson, Holly Barnard, Dave Barnard, Noah Fierer, Mike Gooseff, Diane McKnight, Greg Tucker, and Eric Winchell. PI Suzanne Anderson is leading a field trip for participants on June 11, 2015, and will hold weekly brown bag lunches with the students when her travel schedule permits.

SP Anderson presented a poster on the pilot REU program at the AGU Fall Meeting: Anderson, SP, Smith, L, Gold, AU, Batchelor, R, and Monday, B (2014): Attracting students into science: Insights From a Summer Research Internship Program for Community College Students in Colorado. Eos Trans. AGU 95 (52), Fall Meeting Suppl., Abstract ED31A-3426.

Student Training

PI Bob Anderson offered graduate seminar on “Weathering & geomorphology in the Critical Zone” in spring 2015 (1 cr; ~12 attended each week, 5 for credit)

BcCZO funding has been used to train 6 graduate students in Geological Sciences, Geography, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and Environmental Studies. Colorado School of Mines has an additional 4 graduate students (unfunded) engaged in BcCZO research.

Summary of status and results of cross-CZO activities supported by the CZO, including working-group activities, data efforts, field and laboratory measurements, meetings and workshops, student training and post-doc mentoring, outreach, abstracts and other publications;

1) Graduate student Theodore Barnhart (mentored by Noah Molotch) is spending summer, 2015, at UC Santa Barbara to work with Christina Tague of the Southern Sierra CZO as part of a cross-CZO effort comparing snow, evapotranspiration, and streamflow data and model results at Providence Creek (SSCZO) and Como Creek (BcCZO).

Anticipated products:
A cross-­‐CZO publication examining how the sensitivity of hydrologic partitioning of snowmelt changes across sites.
A manuscript on RHESSys model calibration, and model experiments on snowmelt rate and timing.

2) Jill Marshall was awarded an NSF-Postdoctoral Fellowship, to begin in summer 2015, on “Cracking the critical zone: tree roots in fractures and hypothesized limits to bio-physical weathering –towards a mechanistic soil production law”. Jill will spend several weeks in Boulder in July 2015 as part of this project, which also connects with efforts at Eel River CZO and Southern Sierra CZO.

3) Suzanne Anderson is leading the Deep Critical Zone Salon with Sue Brantley (Penn State, Shale Hills and Luquillo CZOs), Daniella Rempe (Eel River CZO), and Nikki West (Shale Hills CZO). This cross-CZO workshop, which grew out of the Critical Zone Architecture theme breakout group meeting at the Yosemite CZO All Hands meeting in October 2014, will bring 17 researchers together representing 13 sites (8 CZO and 5 non-CZO sites). The group will meet June 14-18, 2015 at Snow Mountain Ranch, Colorado to compare data, share hypotheses for deep critical zone evolution, and begin writing paper(s?) that outline commonalities, differences, and ways forward through either modeling, filling data gaps, or analyzing existing data. This workshop is hosted by BcCZO, and funded by workshop funds within this project.

4) Noah Fierer is working microbial ecologists at other CZO sites to put together plans for cross-site research. A proposal has been submitted (led by Emma Aronson and Aaron 11 Packman) to support planning and improve the portal for sharing microbial data across CZOs.

Community Engagement:

1) Suzanne Anderson: Presentation followed by Q&A in the One Year Later: Boulder County Flood Seminar Series. “Flood landscape: The physical geography of the Front Range and the 2013 storm”, Sept 15, 2014, Lyons Middle/Senior High School.
2) Suzanne Anderson, Sheila Murphy, RECCS REU participant Patrick Barbar: On 3 different days worked with students in Gold Hill School, a “one-room” K-5 school with about 25 students in Gold Hill, CO. Suzanne gave a presentation on hydrology and floods, Sheila led a field trip on watershed response to wildfire, and Patrick (who lives next door to the school) worked with students on erosion. All events in October 2014.
3) Suzanne Anderson and Robert Anderson: publication of Anderson et al., (2015) Exhumation by debris flows in the 2013 Colorado Front Range storm, Geology 43 (5): 391-394, doi:10.1130/G36507.1, led to the following media coverage:

  1. Radio interview on Colorado Public Radio’s Colorado Matters show, broadcast April 29, 2015.
  2. Wired magazine:
  3. Ars Technica:
  4. Live Science:
  5. html
  6. Yahoo! News: 120131227.html

4) Diane McKnight: students in her lab led the Boulder Creek activities for the INSTAAR Open House on April 16, 2015, a day-long event for ~150 middle school students.
5) Sheila Murphy: Mentored an intern to work on “Response of Colorado Front Range watershed to fire and flood disturbances”, co-funded by BcCZO and USGS through the National Association of Geology Teachers (NAGT).

Data visualization: Video of a fly-through of high resolution terrestrial LiDAR of burned hillside from Francis Rengers dissertation (/boulder/news/story/point-cloudderived-from-a-terrestrial-lidar-at-fourmile-canyon-field-site/)
Audio product: Radio interview of PI Suzanne Anderson and Robert Anderson with Ryan Warner on Colorado Public Radio for “Colorado Matters”, on research published in Geology on landslides in the 2013 storm. Interview archived at Broadcast April 29, 2015.

Teacher Professional Development evaluations (2014 program)

Participant/Teacher Quotes:
“This workshop left me inspired and renewed my love for teaching science”
“This workshop provided me with countless valuable resources and activities to confidently lead meaningful inquiry-based science lessons with my student in nature”
“This was an amazing three days of information, tools and activities…what an experience to be in the mountains learning more ways to creatively connect students, through science, to the outdoors and Earth system”
“This experience provided inspiration and the tools /skills to revamp my [Earth Science] curriculum…I am excited to implement many new lab/field inquiries in the coming year”
“I truly enjoyed the workshop. I learned so much about Earth Systems Science and came away with a plethora of ideas on how to incorporate it into my classroom”
“I plan to start collecting field science data when school starts…it seems like a great way to get kids engaged and they can help in the design of our experiments”
“I loved learning about the cutting-edge science at the MRS and how I can bring it back to my high school students”
“The plot studies and transect surveys will be an easy tool to pass on to our teachers and incorporate into our curriculum”
“I liked learning about the scientific tools and research at the Mountain Research Stations and on Niwot Ridge. Being on the top of the watershed really put it all together for me”

Lists of all publications and products from activities within the past year, including categories for published, accepted, and submitted;

Journal articles, book chapters
(*Graduate student, **Postdoctoral researcher, ***Undergraduate student)

Trujillo, E., and N. P. Molotch (2014), Snowpack regimes of the Western United States, Water Resour. Res., 50, 5611–5623, doi:10.1002/2013WR014753.
Molotch, N.P., Durand, M.T., Guan, B., Margulis, S.A., and Davis, R.E. (2014): Snow cover depletion curves and snow water equivalent reconstruction: six decades of hydrologic remote sensing applications. In Lakshmi, Venkataraman, ed., AGU Monograph on Remote Sensing of the Terrestrial Water Cycle, American Geophysical Union, p. 159-174, ISBN 978-1-118- 87203-1.
Anderson, R.S. (2014): Evolution of lumpy glacial valleys, Geology 42(8): 679-682, doi:10.1130/G35537.1.
Hinckley, E.-L., Barnes, R.T., Anderson, S.P., Williams, M.W., and Bernasconi, S. (2014): Ecosystem N retention and transport differ by hillslope aspect at the rain-snow transition of the Colorado Front Range, Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences 119(7): 1281- 1296, doi:10.1002/2013JG002588.
Kirchner, P.B., Bales, R.C., Molotch, N.P., Flanagan, J., and Guo, Q. (2014): LiDAR measurement of seasonal snow accumulation along an elevation gradient in the southern Sierra Nevada, California, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 18: 4261-4275, doi:10.5194/hess-18-4261-2014.
Livneh, B., J. S. Deems, D. Schneider, J. Barsugli, and N. Molotch (2014),Filling in the gaps: Inferring spatially distributed precipitation from gauge observations over complex terrain, Water Resour. Res., 50, 8589–8610, doi:10.1002/2014WR015442.
*Perrot, D., N. P. Molotch, M. W. Williams, S. M. Jepsen, and J. O. Sickman (2014), Relationships between stream nitrate concentration and spatially distributed snowmelt in high-elevation catchments of the western U.S., Water Resour. Res., 50, 8694– 8713, doi:10.1002/2013WR015243.
**Harpold, A.A., Molotch, N.P., *Musselman, K.N., Bales, R.C., Kirchner, P.B., Litvak, M., and Brooks, P.D. (2014): Soil moisture response to snowmelt timing in mixed-conifer subalpine forests, Hydrological Processes, published online 21 Dec 2014, doi:10.1002/hyp.10400.
Anderson, SP, Hinckley, E-L, *Kelly, P, *Langston, A (2014): Variation in critical zone processes and architecture across slope aspects, Procedia Earth and Planetary Science 10: 28- 33, doi:10.1016/j.proeps.2014.08.006. 13
Broxton, P. D., **Harpold, A, Biederman, J. A., Troch, P. A., Molotch, N.P., Brooks, P. (2014): Quantifying the effects of vegetation structure on snow accumulation and ablation in mixed-conifer forests. Ecohydrology, early online view. DOI: 10.1002/eco.1565
*Adams, H.R., Barnard, H.R., and Loomis, A.K. (2014): Topography alters tree growth-climate relationships in a semi-arid forested catchment, Ecosphere 4: art148, doi:10.1890/ES14- 00296.1.
Ouimet, W., Dethier, D, Bierman, P, ***Wyshnytzky, C, *Shea, N, and Rood, DH (2015): Spatial and temporal variations in meteoric 10Be inventories and long-term deposition rates, Colorado Front Range, Quaternary Science Reviews 109: 1-12, doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.11.003.
***Wyshnytzky, C., Ouimet WB, ***McCarthy, J, Dethier, DP, Shroba, RR, Bierman, PR, and Rood, DH (2015): Meteoric 10Be, clay, and extractable iron depth profiles in the Colorado Front Range: Implications for understanding soil mixing and erosion, Catena 127: 32-45, doi:10.1016/j.catena.2014.12.008.
*Foster, M.A, Anderson, R.S., ***Wyshnytzky, C.E., Ouimet, W.B., and Dethier, D.P (2015): Hillslope-lowering rates and mobile-regolith residence times from in situ and meteoric 10Be analysis: Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory, Colorado, GSA Bulletin 125(5-6): 862- 878, doi 10.1130/B31115.1.
*Gabor, R.S., *Burns, M.A., Lee, R.H., Elg, J.B., Kemper, C.J., Barnard, H.R., and McKnight, D. (2015): Influence of leaching solution and catchment location on the fluorescence of water-soluble organic matter, Environmental Science & Technology 49 (7): 4425–4432, doi: 10.1021/es504881t.
Anderson, SW, Anderson, SP, and Anderson, RS (2015): Exhumation by debris flows in the 2013 Colorado Front Range storm, Geology 43 (5): 391-394, doi:10.1130/G36507.1.
*Cullis, JDS, McKnight, DM, and Spaulding, SA (2015): Hydrodynamic control of benthic mats of Didymosphenia geminata at the reach scale. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 72: 1-13,
*Langston, A, Tucker, GE, Anderson, RS, and Anderson, SP (2015): Evidence for climatic and hillslope-aspect controls on vadose zone moisture and saprolite weathering, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, doi:10.1002/esp.3718. Published online 17 March 2015.
Dibner, R., E. Lombardi, and D.F. Doak. (In press). An ecological engineer maintains consistent spatial patterning, with implications for community-wide effects. Ecosphere.
Doak D.F., Bakker, V. J., Goldstein, B. E., and Hale, B. (2015). What is the future of conservation. In G. Wuerthner, E. Crist & T. Butler (Eds.), Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, the Foundation for Conservation (pp. 27-35). San Francisco: Foundation for Deep Ecology. [reprint of a slightly modified version of Doak et al. 2014]

Barnard, HR, ***BA Skeets, *HR Adams, CJ Crosby, WB Ouimet. Using stable isotopes of trees to examine moisture dynamics in bedrock outcrops of a semi-arid catchment. Hydrological Processes, submitted June 5, 2014.
*Cullis J.D.S., McKnight D.M. and Pitlick J. (in review): The role of spatial variation in bed disturbance in maintaining patch dynamics at the reach scale in streams impacted by Didymosphenia geminata, JGR-Earth Surface 14
*Langston, A.L., G.E. Tucker, R.S. Anderson, Interpreting climate-­‐modulated processes of terrace development along Colorado Front Range using a landscape evolution model (JGR-­‐ES, submitted December 2014; in revision May 2015)
Anderson, R.S., Particle trajectories on hillslopes: Implications for particle age and 10Be structure (JGR-­‐Earth Surface, submitted February 2015; in revision May 2015)
Murphy SF, Writer JH, McCleskey RB, and Martin DA, in review, Wildfires, storms, and vulnerability of drinking water quality in the southwestern United States: Environmental Research Letters.
St. Clair, J., Moon, S., Holbrook, W.S., Perron, J.T., Riebe, C.S., Martel, S., Carr, B., Harman, C., Singha, K., and Richter, D., Topographic stress controls on bedrock weathering revealed by geophysical imaging. Submitted to Science.
Feist, R., Barnard, H.R., Mao, D., Revil, A. and Singha, K. Determining the influence of transpiration on soil moisture movement using electrical resistivity imaging. In preparation for Journal of Hydrology in June 2015.

Langston, Abigail L. (2014). The torrential and the mundane: Climate controls on hillslope weathering, channel bed material, and landscape evolution in the Colorado Front Range. PhD dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder
Adams, Hallie R. (2014). Linking topography, hydrology, climate and ecoloty in semi-arid forests: Within catchment annual tree growth and water use efficiency. MA thesis, Dept. of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder.