Published: Sept. 8, 2020

Holly Barnard

Holly Barnard

Geography professor Holly Barnard is the Principle Investigator and Geography Assistant Professor Katherine Lininger, with Eve-Lyn Hinckley, are the Co-Principle Investigators on a new 5-year $6.9M NSF grant to study the Critical Zone in the American West.

Up to now, Critical Zone Observatories have done a lot of work discovering and quantifying fundamental critical zone processes. But how do those processes integrate and affect each other? That’s the next frontier for critical zone research, and this project jumps right in. The researchers will look at how water, trees, soils, and rocks interact and change each other in the fire- and drought-prone landscapes of the American West. Their discoveries will uncover links between how water is stored in the landscape and how that affects key processes in forest ecology, rock chemistry, and soil chemistry. Further, they will help predict how climate change will modify these interactions and change water and therefore life in the West. They’re going to put a lot of theories to the test.

The Critical-Zone Collaborative Network is an adaptive and responsive research enterprise that supports investigations of the Earth’s surface processes. This network will consist of two components that will work together to advance knowledge, education, and outreach in this convergent science: 1) Thematic Clusters of fixed or temporary locations will conduct basic research on significant, overarching scientific questions concerning the structure, function, and processes of the Critical Zone; 2) a Coordinating Hub that will oversee the compatibility and archiving of the data resulting from the Thematic Clusters, coordinate outreach and community-building activities, support the use of network facilities by outside researchers, and plan for infrastructure needs of the network.

Additional Information:

  • NSF solicitation with program overview
  • USGS new focal watershed information
  • Earth Explorers partner school is Westview Middle School in Longmont. See their YouTube channel
  • List of PIs and Institutions:
    • Holly Barnard, Eve-lyn Hinckley, Katherine Lininger: CU Boulder
    • Alexis Navarre-Sitchler, Kamini Singha: Colorado School of Mines
    • Li Li: Penn State University
    • Pam Sullivan: Oregon State University
    • Naomi Tague: University of California Santa Barbara
    • Adrian Harpold: University of Nevada Reno
  • Federal partners:
    • Sheila Murphy  - USGS (Boulder, CO)
    • Brian Ebel – USGS (Lakewood, CO)
    • Renee Brooks, US EPA (Corvallis, OR)
  • Total award (for five years for all academic institutions combined) = $6.9M