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

Melissa Thaw, a doctoral student at the University of California, Merced, is studying how water moves through the soil and where trees and shrubs are taking up water in the Sierra National Forest. She is focusing on the transition zone between rainfall and snow, which will be pushed higher into the mountains as the climate warms. (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Building Understanding of the Critical Zone

Our lives depend upon what happens in the Critical Zone. All life on land depends upon what happens in the Critical Zone. Yet, what happens in the Critical Zone is not broadly understood. Indeed, most people have never heard of the Critical Zone or of Critical Zone Science. We aim to change that. Building broad understanding of Critical Zone processes for the public, and for both scientists and future scientists are the primary goals of our Critical Zone education and outreach programs.

Training Interdisciplinary CZ Scientists

Through research and education opportunities associated with each CZO, cross-CZO scientific endeavors, and annual meetings, we engage young scientists in Critical Zone science, developing a new cadre of future CZO leadership. The necessity of understanding Critical Zone processes globally was recognized early in the development of CZOs, and through international partnerships, U.S. graduate students have benefited their home CZOs as well as their personal career pursuits through travel to European labs and field sites to engage in collaborative learning and research.

Sharing with the Public

The CZOs offer a great opportunity for the Earth sciences community to explain to the public how hypotheses are tested and experiments are conducted, as well as to share exciting scientific results and their societal relevance.

E/O highlights handout

For AGU 2018, we've assembled a two-page document with examples of CZO education-outreach activities.
   See the handout

E/O Contacts

Don Haas
Place-based Earth Science Education, Teacher Professional Development, & Curriculum Development

Tim White
CZO National Office Coordinator

CZO Virtual Institute

The CZO Virtual Institute is part of NSF's Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI). It aims to develop workshops, support graduate and post-doctoral research primarily on cross-CZO, common measurement-based projects, and further the development of web-based collaboration tools on The project has implemented CZO workshops, a summer interns program and an international scholars program to promote collaboration in and out of the network towards common measurement-based CZ science.

Associated Files

CZO Education-Outreach handout (Low Res)
(744 KB pdf)
Two pages, low resolution for the web

CZO Education-Outreach handout (High Res)
(14 MB pdf)
Two pages, high resolution for printing

National Blogs

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Education/Outreach News


NSF Blog: No soils, no life

27 Oct 2020 (National, Boulder, Calhoun, Catalina-Jemez, Eel, IML, Luquillo, Reynolds, Shale Hills, Sierra) - They’re beneath our feet, but we seldom hear important signals in the soils


K-12 Activity: Humans and Soil Change

19 Jul 2020 (National, Calhoun) - The activity familiarizes students with some of the environmental and human factors that contribute to accelerated rates of soil erosion.


2020 CZO Webinar Series on Sustainability

17 Jun 2020 (National, Boulder, Calhoun, Catalina-Jemez, Eel, IML, Luquillo, Reynolds, Shale Hills, Sierra) - For an updated listing of these talks, including abstracts, see /national/education-outreach/sustainability-2020/ The U.S....


More news about SSCZO on Center for Ecosystem Climate Solutions

24 Nov 2020 (Sierra) - More news about SSCZO on Center for Ecosystem Climate Solutions, which grew out of the SSCZO, also on Sustainable California

Eos: Dust in the Wind: Human Impacts to the Colorado Front Range

04 Aug 2020 (Boulder) - Ruth Heindel (former BcCZO post-doc)’s paper was featured by the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface.

Paul Schroeder featured on NPR’s Pulse of the Planet

05 Jun 2020 (Calhoun) - Four 2 minute pieces featuring Paul Schroeder talking about clay were aired on NPR's Pulse of the Planet in February 2020. Please see the links...

Geology of the Calhoun CZO

05 Jun 2020 (Calhoun) - Barrett "Bear" Jordan's MS thesis on the geology of the Calhoun is now posted!  Bear's advisor Paul Schroeder says this is "a bit more...

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Education/Outreach Events

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