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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Boise, Idaho » Northwest Watershed Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #357429

Research Project: Ecohydrology of Mountainous Terrain in a Changing Climate

Location: Northwest Watershed Research Center

Title: Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed and Critical Zone Observatory

item Seyfried, Mark
item LOHSE, KATHLEEN - Idaho State University
item Marks, Daniel
item Flerchinger, Gerald
item Pierson, Fred
item HOLBROOK, W - Virginia Tech

Submitted to: Vadose Zone Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/4/2018
Publication Date: 12/13/2018
Citation: Seyfried, M., Lohse, K., Marks, D., Flerchinger, G., Pierson, F., Holbrook, W.S. 2018. Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed and Critical Zone Observatory. Vadose Zone Journal. 17:180129.

Interpretive Summary: The Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed is an intensively monitored "outdoor laboratory" in existence since 1960. It is located in the Owyhee Mountains in southwestern Idaho. The data collected have been processed and made available to the public. The watershed has been the cite of intensive research in to hydrological and ecological processes typical of the interior northwestern part of the USA. Research has focused on: snow hydrology, water and energy balance, rangeland management/fire and climate change. More recently, with the addition of the Critical Zone Observatory, focus has expanded to carbon cycling and plant production, and groundwater processes. The research has resulted in models used to manage water resources in major watersheds in California, and for rehabilitation of rangelands following fire. Climate change analysis has shown the links between measured temperature increase, snow distribution, and stream flow timing. Current work is focused on developing detailed spatial models of water and chemical moment in mountainous regions and in quantifying carbon sequestration and plant growth across the landscape.

Technical Abstract: The Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed was established in 1960 as an “outdoor hydrological laboratory” to investigate hydrologic processes of interest in the interior northwestern part of the US. Initial emphasis was on installing and testing instrumentation and data collection and dissemination. The initial instrumentation network sampled the climatic gradient within the 240 km2 watershed and focused on specific subwatersheds for intensive instrumentation. This network has expanded and supported ad hoc research as well as providing a stable platform for the development of long term programs supporting research and model development in snow hydrology, climate change, water and energy balance, land management, carbon cycling and critical zone hydrology. More recently, the challenge taken up at the RCEW is to integrate different processes over space for applications to larger areas outside the watershed. The presence of steep local environmental gradients associated with topography in addition to more gradual, elevational gradients, requires high resolution modeling. The snow hydrology program has demonstrated the potential for high resolution, process-based modeling over large landscapes. The direct linkage of biogeochemical processes with hydrological processes ultimately requires a multidisciplinary approach that has been has been adopted at the RCEW since inclusion in the Critical Zone Observatory program. We think that coupling of these processes will lead to a better understating and management of natural resources on the landscape.