A better understanding of surface water budgets in remote landscapes warrants closer monitoring of moisture and temperature variability in near surfaces soils. As part of the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (CZO), investigators from University of California deployed approximately 150 soil moisture, soil water potential and temperature sensors within the root structure of an individual white fir tree (Abies concolor) located in the Kings River Experimental Watershed (KREW). These sensors complement sap flow measurements in the trunk, leaf water potential measurements in the canopy, and snow depth measurements, to enable the Southern Sierra CZO researchers to investigate how soil environmental stresses (water, temperature, nutrients) impact forest ecosystems across the rainfall-to-snow-dominated transition zone. A wireless sensor network was implemented which has several advantages in investigating dynamic environmental variables in remote landscapes and offers a promising approach to realize the full potential of environmental monitoring.
Hartsough, P.; Malaizan, A.; Meadows, M.; Hopmans, J.W.; Bales, R. (2009): Closing the Loop: Moisture dynamics across the soil/biotic interface in a mid-elevation forested landscape, Sierra Nevada, CA. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM.