The Experimental Setup
Monitoring of water and suspended sediment transport processes in dryland environments is particular challenging, because the generation of runoff and sediments often occurs erratically. Presently there is a consistent monitoring deployed in the field. Automatic sample collection (ISCO sampler), continuous and high-frequency measurements of water and sediment fluxes (e.g. pressure and turbidity sensors) as well as rainfall intensity gauges are under operation.
High-resolution topographic data from light detection and ranging (LIDAR) has been used for quantifying fluvial processes such as channel erosion or sediment storage (e.g. Notebaert et al., 2009). Fingerprinting techniques, which make use of characteristic biogeochemical, magnetic or spectral signatures of the sediments from different source areas ("fingerprints") have been applied, both based on field spectrometers and multi-spectral or hyperspectral remote sensing data.
Another way of sediment tracing is through Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID). RFID is a wireless automatic identification system usually applied to track objects in industrial operations. It consists of tags called Passive Integrated Transponders (PITs) encrypted with a unique identification code, and a reader with antenna that activates the PIT and transfers its identification number to the reader. The potential of applying tiny PITs (the minimum size that is commercially available at the moment is about 12 mm in length and 2 mm in diameter) as artificial sediment particles to directly trace water and sediment dynamics at the hillslope or headwater scale is being explored in the field.
Further description of measurement campaigns:
- Generation, transport and transient storage of sediments in meso-scale dryland catchments
- Water and Sediment Fluxes in the Villacarli Catchment