Critical Zone

The critical zone extends from the top of the tree canopy to the deepest penetration of groundwater, and is where life interacts with the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. The critical zone provides a link between deep earth and atmospheric boundary layer processes, and acts as the interface through which these disparate zones interact. Thus, critical zone structure and function evolve with changing climatic and tectonic conditions, which regulate water and nutrient availability. From the rapidly uplifting ranges of Cascadia and Yakutat to the rapidly changing arctic landscapes of Tuktoyaktuk, the climatic and tectonic gradients encompassed by the Canadian Cordillera provide a natural laboratory to test how perturbations in climate and tectonic activity affect critical zone evolution. The CCArray “Critical Zone” theme researchers will use a transdisciplinary approach to exploit the dynamic tectonic and climatic environments of the Canadian Cordillera to elucidate critical zone processes and responses. Measurements of shallow hydrological, geochemical, geophysical, and biological characteristics of the critical zone will serve to connect our understanding of how deep earth and atmospheric processes influence life’s progress on Earth.

For more information, please contact:

Nicole West
Critical Zone Theme Lead

Banner Image: Yellow Jacket Ridge in the Klamath National Forrest (US) by Nicole West