Establishing a Long Term High-Altitude Soil Moisture Monitoring Network at the Watershed Scale

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Jeffrey R Taylor1, Elise C Osenga2, Emily Jack-Scott2, James C Arnott2 and John Katzenberger2, (1)Aspen Global Change Institute, Washington, DC, United States, (2)Aspen Global Change Inst, Basalt, CO, United States
The interactive Roaring Fork Observation Network (iRON) was established in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado in 2012 with the vision of a long-term monitoring project of benefit to both the research community and local land managers. Long-term research on high elevation precipitation patterns and soil moisture has been limited in the intermountain West of the United States. This information can provide increasingly valuable insight into ecosystem dynamics at high elevations, especially in light of climate change projections for the region and montane areas in general. The network currently ranges in elevation from roughly 1,980m to 2,700m with additional stations slated for installation this summer that will broaden that range from 1,880m to 3,000m elevation. Stations take measurements every 20 minutes on soil moisture at three depths, air temperature, relative humidity, rain, and soil temperature. Data from these stations are publicly shared on an interactive, educational website that offers context for observed changes in the local watershed, as well as opportunities for feedback and inquiry. Not only will these data have value for local land management and restoration decisions, they also will be distributed to regional, national, and international research communities as a valuable data set on long term soil moisture trends across an elevational-gradient. Collaborators include, towns, counties, non-profits and the private sector. It is intended that this data set will be continuously collected over the span of coming decades.