Instrumentation and Measurement Facilities at the T.W. Daniel Experimental Forest: A Drought Management Initiative Project


Jobie Carlisle

Document Type

Conference Poster

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Spring Runoff Conference

Publication Date



Recent dramatic increases in population in the West, coupled with periodic drought have made water a limited resource which demands attention. In 2005 the Drought Management Initiative was funded to 1) evaluate factors that control the water supply in the semi-arid intermountain west and 2) to better understand water use practices and behavior so effective water management strategies can be employed, especially during drought. Two critical factors that affect water availability are precipitation, especially snow accumulation, and snowmelt dynamics. These processes are affected by among other things vegetation type and soil properties. To better understand how native vegetation and soil properties affect snow melt infiltration and soil water storage, a research site was established at Utah State University’s T.W. Daniels Experimental Forest (TWDEF) located in the Wasatch Cache National Forest in the Bear River Range of northeastern Utah. At an elevation of 2600m the area is a montane forest-meadow mosaic of conifers, aspen, sagebrush, and grass-forb communities. Within each of the four vegetation types there are 3 instrument clusters (12 total) for continuous monitoring of the meteorological conditions at each location. Each site has a primary and two secondary sensor platforms (towers), each with its own suite of above and below ground sensors. Near each cluster are three randomly selected 5 m by 5 m plots (36 plots total) to characterize ecosystem function. In addition to the 12 instrument clusters, a tower mounted eddy covariance system was established to quantify the surface fluxes of heat, water vapor and CO2, as well as the surface radiation balance. A USDA managed Snotel site was established less than 50 m from the Southeastern edge of our fenced instrumentation domain providing year-round precipitation and winter snow water equivalent measurements. Data from the site are being managed using a CUAHSI hydrologic information system server that saves them in the observations data model relational database and publishes them through CUAHSI web services and data access system.