Development of a Smart 3-D Wireless Sensor Network for Terrain-Climate Research on Forested Ecosystems in Remote Mountainous Environments.
Higher temperatures and the redistribution of precipitation have influenced the northern Rockies in recent years with predictions for increasing rates of change. These climatic changes could possibly alter the distribution and abundance of several tree species. The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness (FC-RNRW) possess some of the most suitable and least human tainted environments for observing changes in the distribution of conifer stands across an elevation gradient. However, long-term data sets are virtually non-existent in this remote site because of the past need for frequent visitation for data downloading coupled with the high cost of access to the research sites and power limitations. This project will result in the development of a smart spatially distributed instrument that transcends existing wireless sensor network technologies
to provide observations of climate change impacts in remote mountainous forestlands. Unattended sensor networks are the future of in-situ ecosystem observations and will dramatically increase spatial coverage, reliability and cost efficiency. It is critical that we develop a system that is robust enough to perform in the world's remote regions that serve as important benchmarks for human-dominated ecosystems. Paradoxically the very things that make these natural sites challenging for sensor networking are often what make them essential for climate change investigations and other research. The proposed gradient monitoring network will provide near real time data from a three dimensional (3-D) array of sensors measuring parameters used in several atmospheric, hydrologic, geospheric, and biological process models. The gradient monitoring network instrument will be designed to operate
unattended for up to one year. Thus allowing deployment in mountainous research stations located in very remote areas of Idaho.