Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Water Resources Research






American Geophysical Union

Publication Date





In recent years, applications of distributed temperature sensing (DTS) have increased in number and diversity. Because fiber-optic cables used for DTS are typically sheathed in dark UV-resistant materials, the question arises as to how shortwave solar radiation penetrating a water column influences the accuracy of absolute DTS-derived temperatures in aquatic applications. To quantify these effects, we completed a modeling effort that accounts for the effects of radiation and convection on a submersed cable to predict when solar heating may be important. Results indicate that for cables installed at shallow depths in clear, low-velocity water bodies, measurable heating of the cable is likely during peak solar radiation. However, at higher velocities, increased turbidity and/or greater depths, the effects of solar heating are immeasurable. A field study illustrated the effects of solar radiation by installing two types of fiber-optic cable at multiple water depths (from 0.05 to 0.8 m) in the center and along the sidewall of a trapezoidal canal. Thermistors were installed at similar depths and shielded from solar radiation to record absolute water temperatures. During peak radiation, thermistor data showed small temperature differences (∼0.003°C–0.04°C) between depths suggesting minor thermal stratification in the canal center. DTS data from cables at these same depths show differences of 0.01°C–0.17°C. The DTS differences cannot be explained by stratification alone and are likely evidence of additional heating from solar radiation. Sidewall thermistor strings also recorded stratification. However, corresponding DTS data suggested that bed conduction overwhelmed the effects of solar radiation.


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