The Critical Zone is the layer of Earth's surface
from the top of the trees to the bottom of the groundwater.
Rocks, soil, water, air, and living organisms interact in the
Critical Zone to provide life-sustaining resources
such as food and water.
info about drylands
Drylands are one of the largest biomes on earth, covering ~45% of Earth’s terrestrial surface, and are among the most sensitive to climate variability, land use change, and other human activities. As a result, dryland environments face significant hydrological challenges, ranging from declines in soil moisture and groundwater tables, to shifts in the dominant vegetation species. Furthermore, human population growth and food demand are promoting the conversion of natural drylands to agricultural areas, and the extensive irrigation required alters fluxes of nutrients, salts, and carbon in unknown ways.
Our scientific objective
This project will investigate important Critical Zone processes and improve our ability to predict future change. Specifically, this thematic cluster will investigate how carbonate minerals in dryland soils control and impact water, nutrients, salts, and carbon moving in and out of the Critical Zone. The overarching objective is to increase our capacity to quantify and predict dryland carbon budgets across land-use and climatic gradients by examining the role of water and nutrient availability in regulating the movement of organic and inorganic carbon.
Dryland Team in action