Stories tagged SAHRA


[SETTING: Ted and Lily are in line at the cafeteria.]

Ted: [Leans over a little, like he’s sharing a secret.] I just heard from SAHRA that the National Science Foundation is funding another Critical Zone Observatory at the University of Arizona. That’ll make six CZOs.

Lily: [Shocked.] Sounds serious!

Ted: Well, yeah. I mean, the critical zone is basically the area along the Earth’s surface between the treetops aboveground and the groundwater table belowground. That’s where we do our day-to-day living and a lot of really important life-sustaining natural processes happen, like water and nutrient cycling.
Variety is the spice of life
Variety is the spice of lifeCourtesy cafemama

Lily: I was talking about Sarah. Who’s she?

Ted: [The miscommunication dawns on him.] Not Sarah, SAHRA. The Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas. They’re a Science and Technology Center based at the University of Arizona.

Lily: [Relieved.] Oh. Gotcha. Back to the Important Area Thingamabob. It sounds like a really big area with a whole lot going on. How’s anyone going to observe it?

Ted: You’re right. The critical zone is a massive area and studying it is daunting, but the NSF’s got something going on with these CZOs.

Lily: [Slightly annoyed.] Please chew with your mouth closed. You’re getting alphabet soup all over my shirt.

Ted: [Indignant.] What? Just ‘cause you can’t swim in my alphabet soup…

[Lily glares at Ted.]

Ted: [Sheepish.] Anyway, I was saying about how the Observatories are intended to be a resource for international collaborations between science disciplines. You know, interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and such. This will allow scientists from geology, ecology, hydrology, etc to work together so we can understand how all the components interact in the Critical Zone.

Lily: Ah-ha! So the Observatories are like a potluck. Everyone brings their specialty to the table to make a whole meal.

Ted: Sure. And the best potlucks happen when lots of people bring something to share and there’s a variety of deliciousness.

Know what else? Each of the six Observatories is located in a different climate. More variety! By comparing the same processes in different climates, scientists will be better able to figure out how the critical zone will change under climate change.
Lily and Ted: On the set
Lily and Ted: On the setCourtesy pchow98

Lily: Huh. I had no idea that science news could make me so hungry.

Ted: Did you even hear what I just said?

Lily: [Mumbles to herself.] Where do you suppose I can get a recipe for tater tot hot dish? [To Ted.] Wait… whatdidjasay?

Ted: [Sighs.] Nevermind. I’m going to get some chocolate pudding. Want some?


Tributary of Lake Erie
Tributary of Lake ErieCourtesy U.S. Federal Government

Among the water management savvy and those concerned with the state our water resources the riparian zone refers to an area where land meets a flowing body of water, like a river bank.

The SAHRA or the Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas is a research institute that works with such areas, especially in drier climates, like the southwestern United States where SAHRA is based out of. Scientists at SAHRA conduct research primarily in river basins, and their research is "stakeholder-relevant". This means that there are public and private agencies who are taking an interest in this research. These agencies help SAHRA inform communities and policy makers of the critical knowledge required to understand water management and the fragile state many of these riparian zones are in.

Research on water and riparian zones at SAHRA, the study of which is generally known as hydrology has helped shed light on the pressure caused by population growth and climate change and what it is doing to these fragile ecological zones. The main dangers of compromised riparian zones is drought or flood. SAHRA hopes that their research and their efforts will bring about legislative changes that will protect and sustain our water resources.