The Critical Zone – Essential for Life on Earth. The Critical Zone acts as the Earth’s outer skin. It is the vertical zone from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of our drinking water aquifers where soil interacts with rock, water, the atmosphere and living organisms.

The Critical Zone is essential for life on Earth. It controls major ecosystem services such as food production, regulation of water quality and quality as well as influencing climate. The critical zone can be seen as a reactor for many important energy fluxes and bio-chemical transformations of elements. UWA plays a leading role in the development of this relatively young research field by establishing Australia’s first Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) as a site for integrated, cross-discipline research. Professor Leopold and Professor Gleeson are liaising nationally and internationally with communities, government and industry to transfer their knowledge of carbon, water and habitat in ecosystems to producers, growers and land managers.  Through the CZO they will develop meaningful and systemic improvements in environmental sustainability.


  • Professor Dr Oliver Chadwick, University of Santa Barbara
  • Dr Tim White, Penn State University
  • Professor. Dr Stephen Banwart, University of Sheffield