Sensing the signal in the soil

Karin Teague (Independence Pass Foundation) and Asa DeHaan (2017 AGCI intern, current field tech) conduct a vegetation survey at Independence Pass. The Roaring Fork Observation Network station is behind them in the background.

AGCI manages the Roaring Fork Observation Network (formerly iRON), a community- supported, long-term research program. Designed to improve understanding of mountain ecosystems and hydrology in the context of a changing climate, this program engages with local stakeholders to identify and address key questions around local climate change impacts. The iRON consists of 10 field monitoring stations located throughout the Roaring Fork watershed of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. At different elevations from the Continental Divide to the Colorado River, iRON collects and publicly shares data on environmental conditions such as soil moisture, soil and air temperature, rainfall, and snow depth. These data are additionally supplemented by periodic vegetation surveys. 

Soil moisture is increasingly understood by scientists as a critical link between ecology, water supplies, weather, and climate. Over time, the patterns and changes revealed through iRON’s growing set of observations will yield critical insights that can help local decision makers, resource managers and other stakeholders, and researchers better understand and manage the impacts of a changing climate on mountain land and water resources.