Using high-resolution distributed temperature sensing to quantify spatial and temporal variability in vertical hyporheic flux

Martin A. Briggs, Laura K. Lautz, Jeffrey M. McKenzie, Ryan P. Gordon, Danielle K. Hare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

122 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hyporheic flow can be extremely variable in space and time, and our understanding of complicated flow systems, such as exchange around small dams, has generally been limited to reach-averaged parameters or discrete point measurements. Emerging techniques are starting to fill the void between these disparate scales, increasing the utility of hyporheic research. When ambient diurnal temperature patterns are collected at high spatial resolution across vertical profiles in the streambed, the data can be applied to one-dimensional conduction-advection-dispersion models to quantitatively describe the vertical component of hyporheic flux at the same high spatial resolution. We have built on recent work by constructing custom fiber-optic distributed temperature sensors with 0.014 m spatial resolution that are robust enough to be installed by hand into the streambed, maintain high signal strength, and permit several sensors to be run in series off a single distributed temperature sensing unit. Data were collected continuously for 1 month above two beaver dams in a Wyoming stream to determine the spatial and temporal nature of vertical flux induced by the dams. Flux was organized by streambed morphology with strong, variable gradients with depth indicating a transition to horizontal flow across a spectrum of hyporheic flow paths. Several profiles showed contrasting temporal trends as discharge decreased by 45%. The high-resolution thermal sensors, combined with powerful analytical techniques, allowed a distributed quantitative description of the morphology-driven hyporheic system not previously possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW02527
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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