A New International Partnership
Hakai Institute joins the Critical Zone Exploration Network.
A long process starts when rain falls on the soils of the Central Coast of British Columbia. The water trickles through the soil, collecting vast amounts of organic matter along the way. The water then carries dissolved organic matter (DOM) through streams into the ocean where it enters the food chain and the carbon cycle of the coastal ocean.
“There’s a huge amount of [carbon] coming off the land in this region,” says Ian Giesbrecht, an ecologist who manages Hakai’s Kwakshua Watersheds program.
Giesbrecht says that conditions on the BC Central Coast inspired Hakai scientists to explore these land-sea linkages in greater detail.
This innovative research, which began on Calvert Island in 2013, has led to a new partnership between the Hakai Institute and a global scientific network.
Hakai’s Calvert Island Field Station has become a registered observatory within the Critical Zone Exploration Network (CZEN). The network—a collaboration of 1,700 scientists at dozens of research stations—is trying to better understand how rock, water, and life affect processes on the Earth’s surface.
The network’s research focuses on the “Critical Zone”—the permeable layer of the Earth’s crust where the atmosphere, water, soils, and organisms interact.
Existing Hakai research programs and scientific infrastructure are a natural fit for the US-based network. Hakai programs that will contribute to the Critical Zone Exploration Network include:
This emerging partnership allows Hakai researchers to compare findings to CZEN sites across a broad range of ecosystems. Other CZEN scientists can also compare their local findings with Calvert Island, which fills a geographical gap in observatories on the Pacific coast of North America.