We had two presentations at the Geological Society of America conference last weekend in Baltimore. Trish spoke in the Karst Processes and Speleogenesis session about the challenges of new instrument development, and presented a snapshot of our growing long-term record which includes ocean sensors, surface precipitation & cave drip monitors, with flow sensors inland and at coastal discharges:
While we aren’t at the whole catchment/watershed scale yet, we hope that our little DIY monitoring network will grow into the kind of coverage you see in Critical Zone Observatories. Trish ended her talk by walking through some data from a very large storm event to show how it impacted the different monitoring stations. You could see the effect on people as they watched the individual sensor records building into a system wide picture of the hydrology.
That interest spilled over to the poster session the next day where I had a selection of different builds on display. I was a little embarrassed as many of these were rough early prototypes & bookshelf calibration units. (because all the really good loggers are currently out on deployment 🙂 There was a steady stream of people with questions that kept me at the poster all day and both of us were on deck for the huge crush of people at the end of the day. All that positive feedback was great for the ego, and it was especially nice to talk to people from other research groups working with the Arduinos. Each of us is tackling different questions, leading to a good diversity of hardware builds and approaches.
I think things are reaching critical mass because at this point many of the smaller independent projects people have been working on have seen enough field trials to cross the tipping point from rough prototypes to capable research equipment. DIY instrumentation will have a much larger presence at future conferences, and some of us have even started scheming about a whole session dedicated to it. If we can wedge it in between the teaching and the fieldwork schedule, perhaps next year we will bring the Pearls over to the AGU.
The conference generated enough interest to show up on the blog’s traffic: not so much as a change in the number of visitors, but as an increase in the number of pages being read:
I think pages per visitor is probably a better metric of interest, though I am sure humble stats like these don’t even count as a drop in internet bucket. But hey, you’ve got to start somewhere…