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What is the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory?

Justin Richardson in Adventures in the Critical Zone

Sep 28, 2016

An illlustrated introduction to the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory!

By Justin Richardson and Kathleen Lohse.

Illustrated by Mathew New

Panel 1. A view of the hilly shrubland landscape found at the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory (RCCZO).

Panel 2. Dr. Kathleen Lohse waves and says, “Hi, I am Dr. Kathleen Lohse and I lead the research conducted at the RCCZO.”

Panel 3. Researchers at the RCCZO want to know how people, plants, water, soil, and bedrock work together.

Panel 4. Dr. Lohse rides a horse in the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed. It was started by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service to understand human effects on mountain-steppe ecosystems.

Panel 5. A covered wagon travels across the landscape set in the past. Native peoples were forced out, and ranching and other new-landuses affected the ecosystem.

Panel 6. Today, researchers work closely with ranchers to protect these ecosystems from invasive trees and plants, like cheatgrass (shown).

Panel 7. Invasive trees and plants can lead to more powerful forest fires.

Panel 8. One of the main tasks at the CZO is to determine how climate change will affect snowfall and water, and carbon in soil.

Panel 9. The CZO has instrumentation to measure these changes to the water-carbon system.

Panel 10. RCCZO researchers surround the entrance sign to the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed. The main goal is to understand the impact on the mountain CZ to promote a sustainable future!


What is the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory?
(2 MB pdf)
Printable 2-page version of this comic.

Justin B. Richardson

CZO INVESTIGATOR, STAFF. National Office outreach officer, Former CZO Post-Doctoral Fellow. Specialty: Soil biogeochemistry of plant-essential and toxic metals.

CZO Profile | Personal Website

Outreach / Education Research   EDUCATION/OUTREACH   General Public   K-12 Education  

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Justin Richardson and his guests answer questions about the Critical Zone, synthesize CZ research, and meet folks working at the CZ observatories

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General Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in the above blog post are only those of the blog author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. CZO National Program or the National Science Foundation. For official information about NSF, visit

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