by: D. Marks, M. Seyfried, G. Flerchinger and A. Winstral
Volume 2007, No. 4, 2 Jun 2007
To understand how variations in climate, land use, and land cover will impact water, ecosystem, and natural resources in snow-dominated regions, we must have access to long-term hydrologic and climatic databases. Data from watersheds that include significant human activities, such as grazing, farming, irrigation and urbanization, are critical for determining the signature of human induced changes on hydrologic processes and the water cycle. One of the primary components of effective watershed research is a sustained, long-term monitoring and measurement program. Such an effort was undertaken when the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW) was added to the USDA Agricultural Research Service watershed program in 1960. The RCEW, a 239 km 2 drainage in the Owyhee Mountains near Boise, Idaho, has been continuously monitored since the early 1960's and continues to the present. The vision for RCEW as an outdoor hydrologic laboratory in which watershed re search would be supported by sustained, long-term monitoring of basic hydro-climatic parameters was described in 1965 in the first volume of Water Resources Research . Research at the RCEW continues to be supported by monitoring at 9 weirs, 21 primary and 4 secondary meteorological measurement stations, 24 precipitation stations, 8 snow courses, 5 snow study sites, 14 soil temperature profiles, 4 soil moisture profiles and 3 sub-surf ace hill-slope hydrology sites. These support a wide range of experimental investigations including snow hydrology and physics, cold season hydrology, water quality, model development and testing, water and carbon flux experiments, ecosystem processes studies, grazing effects, and mountain climate research. Active watershed manipulation allows research on fire ecology and hydrology, vegetation-climate interaction, watershed restoration, grazing and wildlife management, and invasive plants. All data are ingested into a computer database, and available to the public vi a both web-based and on-line ftp access.