CUAHSI has been selected to be the Coordinating Hub for the Critical Zone (CZ) Collaborative Network

Guest post by Jerad Bales, Executive Director, CUAHSI

The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) located in Cambridge, MA, has been selected to be the Coordinating Hub for the National Science Foundation’s Critical Zone (CZ) Collaborative Network. The 5-year cooperative agreement became effective September 1, 2020. The Critical Zone is Earth’s living skin from the bedrock to the treetops and which supports much of life on Earth.

Our collaborators for this new venture include, among others Dr. Elizabeth Boyer, Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Kerstin Lehnert, Lahmont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.  Other collaborators are at Utah State University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the U.S Geological Survey. This is a strong team, all of whom have experience with Critical Zone Science. 

Operation of the Hub will include four primary tasks:

  1. Enhance and integrate existing data services operated by CUAHSI and EarthChem to support the CZ community: We intend to establish cyberinfrastructure with a distributed architecture that links existing data facilities and services, including HydroShare, EarthChem, SESAR (System for Earth Sample Registration), OpenTopography, and eventually other systems via a central CZ Hub that provides services for easy data submission, integrated data discovery and access, and computational resources for data analysis and visualization.  
  2. Support discovery through community synthesis activities and via access to community data and modeling cyberinfrastructure: We will utilize the resources of the USGS John Wesley Powell (JWP) Center for Analysis and Synthesis to catalyze CZ synthesis and will form three synthesis groups over the duration of the 5-year life of the project.
  3. Broaden the CZ community through outreach and education activities: We aim to create a broader, more inclusive community dedicated to CZ research; to promote dissemination of CZ information and resources to stakeholder communities inside and outside of academia; and to use CZ science as a platform to inspire STEM learning. 
  4. Enhance collaboration among the CZ Thematic Clusters through coordination, sharing, community meetings, and outreach: We will manage the web presence of the network; grow collaborations with under-represented CZ scientists through a partnership with an existing CZ RCN; support cross-site training through grants; and facilitate meetings among network scientist and others in the community.

Principal Investigators (PI) of two of the CZ Thematic Clusters are located in the Northeast.  Dr. Jeffrey Munroe at Middlebury College in Vermont is leading a team focused on dust in the CZ from the Great Basin to the Rocky Mountains. Dr. Julia Perdrial at the University of Vermont is leading a Thematic Cluster that will be using big data to assess ecohydrological resilience across scales in the CZ.  Several co-PIs for the other seven Thematic Clusters are located at Northeast institutions in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania.  We invite your participation as we move forward.

To learn more about this project, you can reach out to