Currently, over 20 Tinytag data loggers are located 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle as part of a research project to study river basin water temperature dynamics, within the wider context of understanding the impacts of climate change on Arctic river basin hydrology and ecology. Dr David M. Hannah at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham (UK), is one the leading authorities on hydroclimatology; a scientific discipline which seeks to understand the relationship between climate and surface waters (including rivers, and water stored as snow and ice).
This ongoing research in Swedish Lapland is in collaboration with Dr Alexander Milner and Mr Chris Mellor (also at University of Birmingham, UK). In a new project, Drs Hannah and Milner will deploy Tinytag data loggers in rivers in Svalbard: an area covering 63 000 sq.km and made up of a group of islands between 74° – 81° N and 10° – 35° E; 60% of which is covered by glacier.
The submersible Tinytag data loggers are positioned just above the river bed and their role is to monitor the water column temperature and its dynamics over the summer melt season and also over winter. The loggers are pre-set with a 15-minute logging interval and little user intervention is required after that. The readings provide the team with vital information on river temperature variability and also allow inference of river flow conditions and ecological importance of temperature fluctuations.
Dr David Hannah comments: "The loggers have to withstand extreme conditions including river icing events and high flows (floods). As the summer melt season is short, it is crucial that data are gathered accurately and that nothing goes wrong with our equipment. Tinytags, which I have previously used for other environmental research in the UK and worldwide, are tough and reliable."
Data are downloaded onto a laptop on site using an inductive pad offering a practical and efficient solution in the extremely cold, wet and uncomfortable conditions. The data are displayed using Tinytag Explorer software, which generates easy to read and smooth graphs showing peaks and drops in temperature over the period of measurement.
Knowledge of river thermal dynamics has focussed on glacierised basins, due to the high sensitivity of these systems to climatic change and variability. In a complex field, Tinytag data loggers offer simple but highly effective monitoring technology.