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The Wasatch Environmental Observatory: A mountain to urban research network in the semi-arid Western US
  • +12
  • Jennifer Shah,
  • Ryan Bares,
  • Brenda Bowen,
  • Gabe Bowen,
  • David Eiriksson,
  • A. Gannett Hallar,
  • John Horel,
  • Sarah Hinners,
  • Logan Jamison,
  • John Lin,
  • Diane Pataki,
  • S. McKenzie Skiles,
  • Rose Smith,
  • Margaret Wolf,
  • Paul Brooks
Jennifer Shah
University of Utah
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Ryan Bares
University of Utah
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Brenda Bowen
University of Utah
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Gabe Bowen
University of Utah
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David Eiriksson
University of Utah
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A. Gannett Hallar
University of Utah
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John Horel
University of Utah
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Sarah Hinners
University of Utah
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Logan Jamison
University of Utah
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John Lin
University of Utah
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Diane Pataki
University of Utah
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S. McKenzie Skiles
University of Utah
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Rose Smith
University of Utah
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Margaret Wolf
University of Utah
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Paul Brooks
University of Utah, University of Utah
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Abstract

The Jordan River Basin, and its seven sub-catchments of the Central Wasatch Mountains immediately east of Salt Lake City, UT, are home to an array of research infrastructrure that collectively form the Wasatch Environmental Observatory (WEO). Each sub-catchment is comprised of a wildland to urban land use gradient that spans an elevation range of over 2000 m in a linear distance of ~25km. Geology varies across the sub-catchments, ranging from granitic, intrusive to mixed sedimentary rocks in uplands that drain to the alluvial or colluvial sediments of the former Lake Bonneville. Vegetation varies by elevation, aspect, distance to stream channels, and land use.  The sharp elevation gradient results in a range of precipitation from 700 to 1200 mm/yr (roughly 2/3 as snow) and mean annual temperature from 3.5 o to 6.8o C. Spring snowmelt dominates annual discharge. Although climate is relatively similar across the catchments, annual water yield varies spatially by more than a factor of 3, ranging from 0.18 to 0.63. With historical strengths in ecohydrology, water supply, and social-ecological research, current infrastructure supports both basic and applied research in meteorology, climate, atmospheric chemistry, hydrology, ecology, biogeochemistry, resource management, sustainable systems, and urban redesign. Climate and discharge data span over a century for the seven sub-catchments of the larger basin. These data sets, combined with multiple decades of hydrochemistry, isotopes, ecological data sets, social survey data sets, and high-resolution LiDAR topography and vegetation structure, provide a baseline for long-term data collected by NEON, public agencies, and individual research projects. The combination of long-term data with active state of the art observing facilities allows WEO to serve as a unique natural laboratory for addressing research questions facing rapidly growing, seasonally snow-covered, semi-arid regions worldwide and an excellent facility for providing student education and research training.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

02 Oct 2020Submitted to Hydrological Processes
05 Oct 2020Submission Checks Completed
05 Oct 2020Assigned to Editor
07 Oct 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
08 Oct 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
08 Oct 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
26 Oct 20201st Revision Received
27 Oct 2020Submission Checks Completed
27 Oct 2020Assigned to Editor
27 Oct 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
25 Nov 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
04 Dec 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Major
25 Feb 20212nd Revision Received
26 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
26 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
26 Feb 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
03 Mar 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
12 Mar 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Major