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

Educational Resources

Explore the Critical Zone: WSKG video

Kamini Singha (Boulder Creek CZO, Colorado School of Mines) sits in a grassy field discussing the importance of the Critical Zone.
Kamini Singha (Boulder Creek CZO, Colorado School of Mines) sits in a grassy field discussing the importance of the Critical Zone.
A seven-minute video that explores the Critical Zone, what it is, why it's important, and how the NSF CZO program is studying it. The video emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of work in the critical zone.

Grades 6 - 12
All Disciplines

Educational Objectives

  • Explain what the Critical Zone and Critical Zone Science are.
  • Describe some ways humans are changing the Critical Zone and why these changes are important to understand.


Visit this resource (video)

General Public

Observatory: National CZO

Author(s): R. Ross (PRI), N. Coddington (WSKG), S. Johnson (WSKG), A. Moore (PRI), L. Derry (Cornell Univ), T. White (Penn State), J. Richardson (Cornell Univ), K. Singha (CSM), S. Brantley (Penn State)

Details for this Resource

WSKG Public Media

Published on Mar 9, 2017

The Critical Zone supports terrestrial life on Earth.  It is the region above and below the Earth surface, extending from the tops of the trees down through the subsurface to the bottom of the groundwater. 

Critical Zone scientists work to discover how this living skin is structured, evolves, and provides essential functions that sustain life. 

The national Critical Zone Observatory Network is made up of nine environmental observatories each located in a different climatic and geologic setting.  CZO scientists observe and measure a set of common parameters at each site.  Building a common set of measurements across a diverse range of environmental conditions allows scientists to examine the underlying factors responsible for ecosystem growth and resilience. 

Through interdisciplinary investigation, CZ scientists help us understand the essential functions that sustain life on Earth.

This project is in partnership with the Paleontological Research Institution.


National Critical Zone Observatories: /national/

Paleontological Research Institution:



Kamini Singha - Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory and Colorado School of Mines

Timothy White - Critical Zone National Office Coordinator, Penn State University

Louis Derry - Director Critical Zone National Office, Cornell University

Justin Richardson - Critical Zone National Office Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cornell University

Susan Brantley - Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory, Penn State University

Alexandra Moore - Critical Zone National Office Education & Outreach Consultant, Paleontological  Research Institution

Rob Ross - Project Advisor, Critical Zone National Office Education & Outreach, Paleontological Research Institution

Nancy Coddington - Executive Producer, Narrator, WSKG Director of Science Content

Shane Johnson - Assistant Producer WSKG

Additional footage provided by: Ryan Vachon,  UC MERCED, Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory, Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory, Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory, PEXELSVideos, Pond5, Pixabay, Mário J.R.,,,, and Phil Fried on

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1360760. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.