We describe our improved, robust, and scalable architecture by which to rapidly instrument large-scale watersheds, while providing the resulting data in real-time. Our system consists of more than twenty wireless sensor networks and thousands of sensors, which will be deployed in the American River basin (5000 sq. km) of California. The core component of our system is known as a mote, a tiny, ultra-low-power, embedded wireless computer that can be used for any number of sensing applications. Our new generation of motes is equipped with IPv6 functionality, effectively giving each sensor in the field its own unique IP address, thus permitting users to remotely interact with the devices without going through intermediary services. Thirty to fifty motes will be deployed across 1-2 square kilometer regions to form a mesh-based wireless sensor network. Redundancy of local wireless links will ensure that data will always be able to traverse the network, even if harsh wintertime conditions adversely affect some network nodes. These networks will be used to develop spatial estimates of a number of hydrologic parameters, focusing especially on snowpack. Each wireless sensor network has one main network controller, which is responsible with interacting with an embedded Linux computer to relay information across higher-powered, long-range wireless links (cell modems, satellite, WiFi) to neighboring networks and remote, offsite servers. The network manager is also responsible for providing an Internet connection to each mote. Data collected by the sensors can either be read directly by remote hosts, or stored on centralized servers for future access. With 20 such networks deployed in the American River, our system will comprise an unprecedented cyber-physical architecture for measuring hydrologic parameters in large-scale basins. The spatiotemporal density and real-time nature of the data is also expected to significantly improve operational hydrology and water resource management in the basin.
Kerkez, B., Zhang, Z., Oroza, C., Glaser, S.D., and Bales, R.C. (2012): Connecting the snowpack to the internet of things: an IPv6 architecture for providing real-time measurements of hydrologic systems (Invited). Fall meeting, American Geophysical Union, December 2012. Abstract C32B-07..