Rick Assendelft

Rick Assendelft

PhD student

Hydrology and Climate

Tel.: 044 63 55232

Room number: Y25 L 90


PhD research: Monitoring temporary streams in mountainous headwater catchments

Temporary streams alternate between wet and dry states, causing expansion and contraction, connection and disconnection of the flowing stream network. These changes can have a significant influence on perennial stream water quality and quantity. While temporary streams are estimated to account for more than half of the world’s total river network length and discharge, they are largely unmonitored and understudied, especially in headwater catchments. Conventional methods are often unsuitable to collect high spatiotemporal resolution data on the hydrological state of temporary streams because of the dynamic nature of these streams, and the high costs associated with each measurement or gauging station.

Therefore, we have designed a low-cost, multi-sensor monitoring system, which allows the collection of high spatiotemporal resolution data on temporary streams in headwater catchments. The monitoring system consists of an Arduino microcontroller board, a SD-card data logger shield, and four sensors (electric resistance, temperature, float switch and flow), which provide information on the presence of water and the occurrence of flow. The monitoring system was tested during two field seasons in 2016 and 2017, in a headwater catchment (0.12 km²) of the Studibach catchment in Alptal, Switzerland. The system was tested on 13 locations in the catchment in 2016, and 18 locations in 2017. After several modifications to the monitoring system after the first field season, the system performed well during the second season.

In the Studibach catchment and later in another headwater catchment (of the Reppisch catchment), a network of these systems (30 monitoring systems for both locations) was (and is) used to monitor the temporary stream dynamics. This data will be used to determine the influence of spatial (topographic indices, land cover and stream characteristics) and temporal (rainfall characteristics and groundwater levels) factors on these dynamics, and how these dynamics affect downstream water quality and quantity. 



Temporary streams, stream network patterns, monitoring, low cost sensor network, pre-alpine headwaters, connectivity, stream water quality



Dr. Ilja van Meerveld (ilja.vanmeerveld@geo.uzh.ch)

Prof. Dr. Jan Seibert (jan.seibert@geo.uzh.ch)