The American River Hydrologic Observatory is being strategically deployed as a real-time ground-based measurement network that delivers accurate and timely information on snow conditions and other hydrologic attributes with a previously unheard of granularity of time and space. The basin-scale network involves 18 sub-networks set out at physiographically representative locations spanning the seasonally snow-covered half of the 5000 km2 American river basin. Each sub-network, covering about a 1-km2 area, consists of 10 wirelessly networked sensing nodes that continuously measure and telemeter temperature, and snow depth; plus selected locations are equipped with sensors for relative humidity, solar radiation, and soil moisture at several depths. The sensor locations were chosen to maximize the variance sampled for snow depth within the basin. Network design and deployment involves an iterative but efficient process. After sensor-station locations are determined, a robust network of interlinking sensor stations and signal repeaters must be constructed to route sensor data to a central base station with a two-way communicable data uplink. Data can then be uploaded from site to remote servers in real time through satellite and cell modems. Signal repeaters are placed for robustness of a self-healing network with redundant signal paths to the base station. Manual, trial-and-error heuristic approaches for node placement are inefficient and labor intensive. In that approach field personnel must restructure the network in real time and wait for new network statistics to be calculated at the base station before finalizing a placement, acting without knowledge of the global topography or overall network structure. We show how digital elevation plus high-definition aerial photographs to give foliage coverage can optimize planning of signal repeater placements and guarantee a robust network structure prior to the physical deployment. We can also 'stress test' the final network by simulating the failure of an individual node and investigating the effect and the self-healing ability of the stressed network. The resulting sensor network can survive temporary service interruption from a small subset of signal repeaters and sensor stations. The robustness and the resilient of the network performance ensure the integrity of the dataset and the real-time transmissibility during harsh conditions.
Zhang, Z., C. Oroza, S.D. Glaser, R.C. Bales and M.H. Conklin. (2013): Developing a robust wireless sensor network structure for environmental sensing. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013, abstract #C41B-0630.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.