Scientists come together to explore Critical Zone

Experts will discuss ways to investigate Australia’s Critical Zone, the vertical stretch of the planet extending from treetops to bedrock, at a conference next week hosted by The University of Western Australia.

The Australian Academy of Science 2023 Elizabeth and Frederick White Research Conference, from November 21 to 23, aims to create a science agenda for Critical Zone Research in Australia.

Conference organiser Associate Professor Sally Thompson, from UWA’s School of Engineering, said five new Critical Zone Observatories had been installed in Australia.

“It is a great time to plan how we can use this infrastructure so Australia’s diverse scientific communities, networks and people can address research priorities for Australian Critical Zone Science,” Associate Professor Thompson said.

“Australian Critical Zone science brings the perspective of ancient landscapes with long memories, and little recent history of volcanism, seismic activity or glaciation, to a global science that has been dominated by younger, northern hemisphere landscapes.”

Guest speakers at the event include Professor Lyn Beazley, former Western Australian Chief Scientist and Western Australian of the Year; Professor Bill Dietrich, from the University of California, Berkeley, director of Eel River Critical Zone and technical advisor to OzCZO, Professor Len Collard, a Noongar man and water scientist; and Associate Professor Talitha Santini, from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment.

Participants will be surveyed ahead of the conference and grouped to discuss the Critical Zone themes of water, carbon, evolution and change, mineral resources, climate, modelling, and sensing/observing.

“We are delighted that the Australian Academy of Science has supported our work with the White Conference,” Associate Professor Santini said.

“The event allows us to bring national partners together and support the engagement of junior scientists in a diverse participant group.”

The conference aims to activate the infrastructure available at the Australian Critical Zone Observatories; to define and document the grand challenges; to found a community of Critical Zone Scientists in Australia and connect them to the global Critical Zone research community.

/University Release. View in full here.