Koiliaris Critical Zone Observatory

Main Ecosystem

Koiliaris CZO is an exemplary site for studying the Mediterranean soils under imminent threat of desertification due to climate change. The main type of soil degradation in the basin is water erosion, which is due to the clearing of forests and natural vegetation for cropping and livestock grazing. De-vegetation and inappropriate cultivation practices induces soil organic matter losses making soils susceptible to erosion and desertification with global consequences for food security, climate change, biodiversity, water quality, and agricultural economy.

The total area is 130 km2 and the total length of the river is 36 km. Intensive hydrologic and geochemical monitoring has been conducted since 2004 while the site has historical data since the ‘60s. In addition, high-frequency hydrologic and water quality monitoring stations have been deployed to obtain data for the characterization of the hydrologic and biogeochemical processes with varying process response-times. There are 3 meteorological stations within the watershed and several outside. Water quality data of surface and groundwater have been collected since 2004.

Critical Zone
Earth’s Critical Zone (CZ), the thin outer veneer of our planet from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of our drinking water aquifers that supports almost all human activity.

Banwart, S., Chorover, J., Gaillardet, J., Sparks, D., White, T., et al. (2013): Sustaining Earth’s Critical Zone – Basic Science and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Global Challenges. The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, ISBN: 978-0-9576890-0-8. [ref]