PRI scientists contributing to Critical Zone science

Sangamon River valley

From treetops to rivers to the bedrock below, the critical zone is a focus of study by scientists in the U.S. Midwest who are working to understand more about the “skin” of our planet, where humans and nature interact. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), members of this interdisciplinary team of researchers from nine U.S. universities are running the Intensively Managed Landscapes Critical Zone Observatory (IML-CZO), which includes three main study sites, to learn more about the impact of human activities on the land over time. In Illinois, hydrologists and geologists from the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are engaged in cutting-edge research to support the IML-CZO activities in the Upper Sangamon River Basin. Their research is providing critical information about how climate, water, vegetation, and humans interact—information that is helping the team and the agricultural community better understand and address issues of food and water security and environmental sustainability.