P301 Flux Tower (2015 m elevation)

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The Providence Flux Tower was the first tower of the Sierra Climate Gradient installed. It was built in 2008, and lies in the Sierran Mixed Conifer belt at the main site of the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory.

1015 mm   Precip

Parent Field Area:
Providence Creek Subcatchment P301 ▲

P301 Flux Tower


igneous-felsic intrusive

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Setting & Research
Dynamic Map
  • Setting & Research

    The vegetation community is a mix of white fir (Abies concolor), Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) and incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens). The tower elevation is 2018 m. Mean minimum T is 2.7ºC, Mean maximum temperature is 14.8ºC. Mean annual precipitation is 1015 mm year-1. For additional information, see Goulden et al., 2012.

    This site is part of an elevational transect that increases in altitude from west to east: SJER (400 m), Soaproot Saddle (1100 m), Providence Creek Headwater Catchments (P301, 2000 m), and Short Hair Creek (2700 m).

    Along this transect, bedrock lithology is generally constant (intrusive felsic plutons) while air temperature, precipitation phase, vegetation species diversity and abundance, and subsurface properties vary. A series of eddy-covariance gas flux towers are installed at these sites. Transect-length work has included soil depth, chemistry, and moisture characterizations; vegetation surveys; forest water balance and usage research; and wind-blown dust geochemistry and microbiology studies.

  • Dynamic Map

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  • Data

    Flux Tower Transect, P301 - Flux Tower, Meteorology (2007-2015)
    8 components    P301 Flux Tower (2015 m elevation), Providence Creek Subcatchment P301    Climatology / Meteorology, Biology / Ecology    Mike Goulden, Anne Kelly

    National - Flux Tower - AmeriFlux Network data (2007-2018)
    14 components    Boulder Creek Watershed, Jemez River Basin, Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory, San Joaquin Experimental Range (405 m elevation), Soaproot Saddle (1160 m elevation), P301 Flux Tower (2015 m elevation), Short Hair Creek (2700 m elevation)    Climatology / Meteorology    Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory, Catalina-Jemez Critical Zone Observatory, Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory, Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory, Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory

  • Photos

    SSCZO - Flux Towers

    An eddy covariance flux tower is located near the top of the P301 watershed. Instruments collect data on temperature, relative humidity, and fluxes of carbon dioxide and water vapor to determine the physiological responses of the site (for example, how photosynthesis increases with light) and summed over a year to determine the carbon balance of a site (how much carbon it is gaining or losing). Three other flux towers have been instrumented at different elevations with the Sierras including the San Joaquin River, Soaproot, and Short Hair Creek.

    This west-east transect spans elevation gradient from 400 m to 2700 m. The change in elevation is accompanied by a slight increase in precipitation, but the main change is a shift from rain-dominated precipitation to snow-dominated precipitation. The climatic shift plays out in other ways as well. At lower elevations, high temperatures and low water availability limit evapotranspiration by vegetation. Meanwhile, forest activity (evapotranspiration) at higher elevations is limited by cold winter temperatures. There is a sweet spot at middle elevations of yera-round evapotranspiration and forest activity.

    Photo galleries of each flux tower are available: San Joaquin Experimental Range;  Soaproot SaddleProvidence subcatchment P301; and Short Hair Creek.

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  • Geology

    • igneous-felsic intrusive

    P301, 2000 m elevation
    Quad: Huntington Lake

    Dinkey Creek Granodiorite (Kdc, formerly Granodiorite of Dinkey Creek)
    “Medium-grained, generally strongly foliated. Contains abundant disc-shaped mafic inclusions and mafic clots composed of hornblende, biotite, sphene, plagioclase, and opaque minerals. Intrudes the quartz diorite of Blue Canyon. Age by Rb-Sr whole-rock isochron 110 +/- 11 m.y.” (Bateman and Wones 1972). The mafic inclusions are “as much as 30 cm long and 5 cm thick. The mafic minerals are intergrown, and individual grains are anhedral” (Bateman 1992).

    For more detail on the other flux towers, refer to each page:

    SJER, 400 m elevation
    Quad: Millerton Lake
    Ward Mountain Trondhjemite (Kw) (formerly Leucotonalite of Ward Mountain)

    Soaproot Saddle, 1100 m elevation
    Quad: Shaver Lake
    Bass Lake Tonalite (Kbl, formerly Tonalite of Blue Canyon)

    Short Hair Creek, 2700 m elevation
    Quad: Blackcap Mountain
    Aplite and felsic quartz monzonite dikes (Kap)
    Granodiorite of Dinkey Creek (Kdc, see description for P301)