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Critical Zone Observatory seeks to answer climate change questions
Date:9/28/2009

d how rapidly, soil erosion and sediment transport through rivers impact the exchange of carbon between the land and the atmosphere, and affect climate.

"Over the centuries, we humans have been a major geological force, re-contouring entire landscapes through our activities," Sparks notes. "Our new Critical Zone Observatory will work to quantify the impact of these activities on carbon and climate. We're excited to have the opportunity to explore these important scientific questions and look forward to collaborating with our colleagues at Stroud Water Research Center on the effort," Sparks says.

"The Christina River Basin is already one of the best studied watersheds of its size in the nation, with more than 40 years of research conducted by the Stroud Water Research Center and governmental agencies," Sparks adds, "but answering the big questions of earth and environmental science requires extensive real-time data and a collaborative effort that the cyber-infrastructure of this Critical Zone Observatory will make available to scientists around the nation."

Ideal natural laboratory

The Christina River Basin includes five counties and 60 municipalities in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and encompasses Brandywine Creek, White Clay Creek, Red Clay Creek, and the Christina River and their watersheds. It is an ideal natural laboratory to research how humans affect the critical zone, the scientists say, because of its diverse regions ranging from more pristine areas, to second-growth forests, agricultural fields, suburban settings, and highly industrialized and urbanized areas.

"Erosion and excavation activities expose minerals that mix with organic matter in soils and are transported through streams and rivers to the sea," says Aufdenkampe. "We want to better understand how the interaction of carbon with minerals might sequester that carbon from the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas, and also underst
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Contact: Tracey Bryant
tbryant@udel.edu
302-831-8185
University of Delaware
Source:Eurekalert  

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