Critical zones include natural and anthropogenic environments, where life, energy and matter cycles combine in complex interactions in time and space. Despite significant advances in climatology, hydrology, soil science, ecology, geomicrobiology, biogeochemistry, geology and other fields related to the critical zone, accurately predicting critical zone functioning still requires studying the interactions between the dominant processes across the landscape and at the interfaces of these traditionally siloed fields. The number and richness of critical zone observatories established around the world are increasing and structured networks are gaining strength (e.g., TERENO, OZCAR, DOE watersheds, eLTER), yet making integrative sense of the increasing amount of diverse datasets may require to wander beyond the “uniqueness of place” and be “undisciplined”. This session wishes first to collect contributions aiming at gaining knowledge on critical zone functioning that may be transferable across locations sharing common settings (e.g., forested, montane, alpine, arctic, managed and agricultural environments, urban, lakes, wetlands, or rivers), for instance through large synthesis approaches or by testing the relevance of dominant mechanisms from one critical zone observatory at other places. In addition, we invite authors and teams whose research relates to different, sometimes distant, research fields to address their scientific question. Examples of such topics are 1) impact of disturbance (e.g. drought or wildfires) on ecosystem services, 2) how underground structure and history may play a role in ecosystem resilience, 3) testing new tools and techniques for cross-site or cross-network investigations, 4) comparing and identify the plant and soil acclimation across critical zone settings, 5) identify and quantify dominant water flow and solute transport processes, 6) human-induced feedback of landscape degradation in agrosystems, 7) testing/stressing ecosystem models, developed for a specific region, under different environmental conditions. Additionally, we invite community-level reflections on the major concerns and obstacles for a collaborative critical zone approach, from data harmonization to the integration of social sciences.
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