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Picture of the Day

Professors Enlist Airborne Lasers To Study Earth's Processes

The Earth's Critical Zone is the area that stretches vertically from the groundwater to the lowest layer of the atmosphere. Over the past three years, the NSF funded the formation of six Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs) across the United States — including one operated by UC Merced in the Southern Sierra Nevada — that would serve as natural laboratories where top scientists across several disciplines study the many processes that occur within the Critical Zone.

Guo's project will provide scientists throughout the CZO system — and, eventually, the public at large — with remarkably detailed, three-dimensional images of the ground, vegetation and other layers that will help lead to greater understanding of erosion, weathering, soil formation, water movement and nutrient transport.

Image credit: Qinghua Guo