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

Scientists at Penn Characterize ‘Hot Spots and Hot Moments’ in America’s Tropics

he Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico are prone to extremes. Nearly all the rain for the year pours down in two drenching months. Lush, rolling forests give way to rocky, barren peaks. Even the soil is extreme, storing carbon differently than many other soil types, in highly localized iron minerals.

Such unusual characteristics have drawn the attention of a team of researchers from the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania, who have spent the last five years studying the region’s waterways, air and terrain.

Recently, the Penn team and colleagues from the University of New Hampshire, University of California, Berkeley and other institutions got word that their project, part of the National Science Foundation’s Critical Zone Observatory program, has been renewed for another five years. And though one of the project’s primary architects, the late Fred Scatena, former chair and professor in the EES department, at Penn isn’t around to participate in the ongoing work, “his fingerprints are all over it,” says Alain Plante, associate professor in the department and one of the primary investigators of the research. 

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