The University of Arizona


1999 – 2010

SAHRA's original and continuing mission is to identify critical stakeholder-relevant knowledge gaps and conduct basin-focused multidisciplinary research to fill them; and to convey what is known and what is being learned to improve water management and policy. The center was supported by an approximate $34 million, ten-year award from the National Science Foundation for the SAHRA Science and Technology Center.

2010 and beyond

Following the initial NSF award, SAHRA’s focus is shifting toward promoting and facilitating the development of cutting edge, stakeholder-relevant, water-related basic research projects, while relying on established institutional strengths in translating that knowledge into usable products for resource managers. Since 2009 SAHRA has served as the springboard for over $15 million in current non-STC-funded research efforts including $4.5 million for a Critical Zone Observatory (CZO), $4.5 million for the COSMOS weather and climate program, and approximately $3 million for the Biosphere 2 Landscape Evolution Observatory.


Many of the critical questions in Earth system science, especially those in Arizona and the southwestern United States, focus on how the cycling and availability of water interacts with, and is controlled by, climate, land use, and ecosystem structure. These questions require the expertise of multiple disciplines and have led to a growing number of basic and applied research solicitations focused on large, multidisciplinary projects.

The SAHRA center meets these needs through projects that maintain and advance the University of Arizona’s role as a leader in Earth system science, especially and primarily as it relates to the cycling of water in a rapidly-changing world. The coordination between researchers and projects that facilitates this scientific advancement is a key outcome and strength of the SAHRA center that benefits the state and the region.


The unique capabilities of the SAHRA center focus on science integration, incubation, and synthesis.

By integrating existing research, SAHRA will help researchers identify the critical knowledge gaps and research that rapidly build new knowledge.

SAHRA will continue to serve as an incubator of new ideas and projects that link the disciplinary strengths of the University of Arizona to address the scientific challenges that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

A legacy of the last decade of interdisciplinary research in SAHRA is a strength in synthesizing individual research findings into a broader understanding of Earth system science. These activities include work beyond the university to solidify the University of Arizona’s role as a leader in interdisciplinary environmental research focused on water.