Data loggers make monitoring stream temps easy

Check out TU's Stream Temperature Monitoring Handbook.

By Kurt Fesenmyer

One great way to take the pulse of your local river is by monitoring stream temperatures. Inexpensive data loggers offer the opportunity to record water temperatures every hour for several years, providing easy access to important information on seasonal patterns, short-term trends, and the impacts of restoration projects or other activities in a watershed.

TU’s Science Team has spent the past few months test driving a new data logger for monitoring stream temperatures. We’re happy to report that the new loggers work very well and should make monitoring your local stream even easier. The new loggers — the Onset TidbiT MX series — are the latest iteration of the reliable Tidbit product line. We are recommending the Tidbit MX2203, which cost just over $100 each.

The new model includes several features that will prove very useful for long-term stream temperature monitoring—they have a four-year battery life under normal conditions and a replaceable battery; they can be launched and their data downloaded using a Bluetooth connection and the free Onset HOBOmobile app; and they have a ‘water detect’ feature that can be used for monitoring stream drying and patterns of intermittency. For more information about the loggers, including basic instructions on calibrating, setting up, and launching loggers, as well as details on how to receive a discount Onset is kindly offering TU volunteers, check out the newly updated Version 3 of TU’s Stream Temperature Monitoring handbook.

The handbook also contains some basic guidance on "Why," "Where," and "When" to monitor and is a great starting place for chapters thinking about stream temperature monitoring. Additional resources are available on TU’s stream temperature monitoring resources webpage.

With the new advances in data-logger technology, now is a great time to start monitoring a stream near you. 

Kurt Fesenmyer is part of TU's Science Team, and is based in Boise. 

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