About the Observatory

 

The iUTAH Socio-Environmental Observatory was constructed with funds provided by NSF EPSCoR, (award # OIA-1208732,  iUTAH: innovative Urban Transitions and Arid-region Hydro-sustainability).  Spatially, the observatory spans the Wasatch Front, with environmental monitoring instrumentation installed in three watersheds that differ in the biophysical and human dimensions nature of land-use change (See map).  Instrumentation is installed along a mountain-to-urban gradient in each watershed.  Within each watershed, four core terrestrial stations are instrumented with the following sensors: Vaisala PTB110 barometer, Vaisala air temperature and humidity, RM Young anemometer, Kipp and Zonen CNR-4 net radiation, Apogee quantum sensor, Judd ultrasonic snow depth sensor, Geonor weighing precipitation gauge, six Campbell Scientific water content reflectometers (soil moisture), and six heat flux plates (built in-house).  Some stations are equipped with Vivotek fixed-time lapsed cameras and sapflow sensors (built in-house).  All sensors are connected to Campbell Scientific data loggers (either CR1000 or CR3000-RC) and transmit data records via either RF450 900MHz radio transmitters or RAVEN cellular digital modems to the iUTAH Modeling and Data Federation at 15-minute time intervals.

 

Five core aquatic stations are installed along elevation gradients in the Logan River and Red Butte Creek watersheds, while four core aquatic stations are installed along a similar elevation gradient in the Middle Provo River watershed.  These stations are instrumented with Xylem (YSI) EXO2 data sondes with pH, electrical conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen sensors, a Forest Technology Systems turbidity sensor, and a Campbell Scientific pressure transducer.  Two stations in each stream are enhanced with additional EXO fDOM and total algae sensors, as well as a Satlantic SUNA nitrate sensor.  Flows in several storm drains and/or irrigation canals are monitored using ISCO flow level sensors.  As with terrestrial stations, the aquatic station sensors are connected to Campbell Scientific data loggers (CR800) and transmit data records via either RF450 900MHz radio transmitters or RAVEN cellular digital modems to the iUTAH Modeling and Data Federation at 15-minute time intervals.  Data can be downloaded and visualized online.

 

Social science data collection efforts are overlain on the footprint of the sensor network.  These include detailed neighborhood typologies constructed using parcel-scale land use-land cover, and other secondary data sources including water use and socio-demographics.  The neighborhood typologies were used to select twenty-three neighborhoods in twelve cities in three counties (representing 42% of the Utah population) for drop-off/pick-up household surveys in each watershed (approximately 4140 households).  The response rate was high (62%), yielding 2343 useable respondents from 3766 eligible households.  (View Data Summaries)  A subset of questions from the household survey has been distributed across the state using iPads in a random intercept of adults at grocery stores.  To date, the team has acquired over 6500 responses.  (Explore Data)

 

The socio-environmental observatory is supported by and integrated with iUTAH Cyberinfrastructure in the form of the Modeling and Data Federation; and connected to broader efforts at engaging with a statewide audience of stakeholders in water and STEM-related issues through the iUTAH Office for Engaged Scholarship.