The Jemez River Basin and Santa Catalina Mountains Critical Zone Observatory is a developing interdisciplinary observatory in the southwestern US that will improve our fundamental understanding of the function, structure and co-evolution of biota, soils, and landforms that comprise the Critical Zone (CZ). The observatory is designed as a natural laboratory for the earth science community to test hypotheses related to CZ function in relation to climatic and water cycle variation. We posit that CZ systems organize and evolve in response to open system fluxes of energy and mass that can be quantified at point to watershed scales. These fluxes include meteoric CZ inputs of radiation, water, and carbon that are modulated by surficial biota to produce fluids and biogeochemical components that undergo biotic and abiotic transformation during gradient-driven transport.
JRB Climate: The Jemez River Basin is located in the transition zone between the southwestern desert and the Rocky Mountains. With increasing elevation, mean annual temperature decreases from 18 to 11 °C and mean annual precipitation increases from 0.4 to 0.8 m yr-1. Climate for the mixed conifer zero order basin (ZOB, below) which is a subject of intensive collaborative study can be characterized as semiarid, continental and montane. The MAP, 790 mm,
falls mostly in winter snow and summer monsoon rain (July and August). MAT is 4.9 °C with average lowest and highest temperatures of -8.7 °C and 21.2 °C, respectively.
SCM Climate. The climate of the Marshall Gulch catchment (below), a focus of study within the SCM, can be characterized as semi-arid and montane. Mean annual precipitation is 750 mm, delivered mostly during intense summer monsoon (July and August) and as winter snowfall. Average temperature is 9.4 °C and the average lowest and highest temperatures are -3.8 °C and 23.9 °C, respectively. In 2009, the total precipitation was 456 mm, minimal temperature -6.7 °C and maximal temperature 27.7 °C.