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

Research Assistantships available to work with SSCZO


11 Dec 2013
News Source: UC Merced

Up to four research assistantships are available for Fall 2014 for work SSCZO. Apply by January 15, or December 15 for early consideration!

Up to four research assistantships are available for Fall 2014 for work in the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (SSCZO). Explore the rest of this site for background on the SSCZO. Available positions will cover research interest in the areas of mountain hydrology, ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry, soil microbiology and organic matter processes, and geochemistry. Preference given to applicants interested inpursuing a Ph.D. Graduate students at UC Merced join an interdisciplinary graduate group. SSCZO faculty are members of the Environmental Systems (ES) graduate group (, and some are also members of the Quantitative and Systems Biology (QSB) graduate group (

Please see‐studies for more information about graduate programs at UC Merced.

The Environmental Systems graduate program trains students to tackle the most challenging problems facing our planet – water, soil, climate, energy and resources. Through understanding the Earth as an integrated system of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere that intersects human society, ES students are uniquely poised to address critical research needs of the environment and its sustainability. Graduates are prepared for careers in academia, research, government, and industry that integrate expertise from across engineering, natural sciences and social sciences.

Applicants are encouraged to communicate with SSCZO faculty, including Professors Roger Bales (, Martha Conklin (, Stephen C. Hart (, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe (, or Marilyn Fogel (; and collaborator Carolyn Hunsaker (

The application deadline for Fall semester 2014 enrollment is January 15th, 2014. For early consideration for admission and financial support to the Ph.D.program, apply by December 15th, 2013. Please visit the Graduate Division application page (‐apply) to submit application materials.

Conceptual model of the SSCZO research, anchored by four sites in an elevation gradient in the Sierra Nevada.

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SSCZO Research Assistantship call for applications 2013
(625 KB pdf)
Open call for applications, for student research positions starting Fall 2014.


SSCZO - Instruments

Hundreds of instruments and sensors have been deployed in the primary SSCZO research site of the Providence Creek watershed as well as in Wolverton basin.  Additional SSCZO flux towers and instruments have also been installed at the San Joaquin Experimental Range, Soaproot Saddle, and Short Hair Creek.

Explore more photos of the intstuments and sensors used by SSCZO.

SSCZO - Flux Towers

An eddy covariance flux tower is located near the top of the P301 watershed. Instruments collect data on temperature, relative humidity, and fluxes of carbon dioxide and water vapor to determine the physiological responses of the site (for example, how photosynthesis increases with light) and summed over a year to determine the carbon balance of a site (how much carbon it is gaining or losing). Three other flux towers have been instrumented at different elevations with the Sierras including the San Joaquin River, Soaproot, and Short Hair Creek.

This west-east transect spans elevation gradient from 400 m to 2700 m. The change in elevation is accompanied by a slight increase in precipitation, but the main change is a shift from rain-dominated precipitation to snow-dominated precipitation. The climatic shift plays out in other ways as well. At lower elevations, high temperatures and low water availability limit evapotranspiration by vegetation. Meanwhile, forest activity (evapotranspiration) at higher elevations is limited by cold winter temperatures. There is a sweet spot at middle elevations of yera-round evapotranspiration and forest activity.

Photo galleries of each flux tower are available: San Joaquin Experimental Range;  Soaproot SaddleProvidence subcatchment P301; and Short Hair Creek.

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