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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Boise, Idaho » Northwest Watershed Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #207468

Title: The Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed: A hydro-geo-climatic observatory for the 21st century

item Marks, Daniel
item Seyfried, Mark
item Flerchinger, Gerald
item Winstral, Adam

Submitted to: Trans American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2006
Publication Date: 12/20/2006
Citation: Marks, D., Seyfried, M., Flerchinger, G., and Winstral, A. 2006. The Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed: A Hydro-Geo-Climactic Observatory for the 21st Century. EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 87(52) Fall Meeting Supplement, Abs H51D-0510.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Long-term hydro-climatic data on a watershed scale are critical to improving our understanding of basic hydrologic and ecologic processes because they provide a context to assess inter-annual variability and allow us to document longer-term trends. In addition, a scientific infrastructure that captures the spatial variations within a watershed are required to identify recharge areas, describe the amount and timing of streamflow generation and understand the variability of vegetation. These basic data, combined with soil microclimate information, are required to describe the milieu for geochemical weathering and soil formation. Data from watersheds that include significant human activities, such as grazing, farming, irrigation, and urbanization, represent conditions typical to most watersheds and are critical for determining the signature of human induced changes on hydrologic processes and the water cycle. The Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW), a 239 km2 drainage in the Owyhee Mountains near Boise, Idaho, was added to the USDA Agricultural Research Service watershed program in 1960. The vision for RCEW as an outdoor laboratory to support watershed research was described 1965 in the first volume of Water Resources Research [Robins et al., 1965]. The RCEW has supported a sustained data collection network for over 45 years. The first 35 years of data were presented in a series of papers in 2001 [Marks, 2001]. More recently, there has been an effort to better describe spatial variations within the watershed, and research is currently supported by 9 weirs, 32 primary and 5 secondary meteorological measurement stations, 26 precipitation stations, 8 snow course and 5 snow study sites, and 5 eddy covariance systems. In addition, soil microclimate (moisture and temperature) profile data are collected eight sites with surface data collected at an additional 19 sites. These support a wide range of experimental investigations including snow hydrology and physics, cold season hydrology, geophysics, water quality, model development and testing, water and carbon flux experiments, ecosystem processes, grazing effects, and mountain climate research. Active watershed manipulation allows fire ecology and hydrology, vegetation-climate inter-action, watershed restoration, grazing and wildlife management, and invasive plant research.