Evaporation over a Heterogeneous Mixed Savanna-Agricultural Catchment using a Distributed Wireless Sensor Network
Small scale rain fed agriculture is the primary livelihood for a large part of the population of Burkina Faso. Regional climate change means that this population is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Additionally, as natural savanna is converted for agriculture, hydrological systems are observed to become less stable as infiltration is decreased and rapid runoff is increased to the detriment of crop productivity, downstream populations and local water sources. The majority of the Singou River Basin, located in South East Burkina Faso is managed by hunting reserves, geared to maintaining high populations of wild game; however, residents surrounding the protected areas have been forced to intensify agriculture that has resulted in soil degradation as well as increases in the frequency and severity of flooding and droughts. Agroforestry, or planting trees in cultivated fields, has been proposed as a solution to help buffer these negative consequences, however the specific hydrologic behavior of the watershed land cover is unknown. We have installed a distributed sensor network of 17 Sensorscope wireless meteorological stations. These stations are dispersed across cultivated rice and millet fields, natural savanna, fallow fields, and around agroforestry fields. Sensorscope routes data through the network of stations to be delivered by a GPRS connection to a main server. This multi hop network allows data to be gathered over a large area and quickly adapts to changes in station performance. Data are available in real time via a website that can be accessed by a mobile phone. The stations are powered autonomously by small photovoltaic panels. This deployment is the first time that these meteorological stations have been used on the African continent. Initial calibration with measures from 2 eddy covariance stations allows us to calculate the energy balance at each of the Sensorscope stations. Thus, we can observe variation in evaporation over the various land cover in the watershed. This research will both contribute to scientific understanding of West African vegetation and inform local reforestation and agricultural management. Concurrent to this scientific research, the community is improving natural resource management efforts including reforestation, a botanical garden and environmental education. Our hope is that the results of our evaporation modeling will inform local farmers and thus help improve their adaption to changing weather patterns and land cover.
Record created on 2011-04-11, modified on 2017-02-23