Technical Note: Bed conduction impact on fiber optic DTS water temperature measurements

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  • Error in Distributed Temperature Sensor (DTS) water temperature measurements may be introduced by contact of the fiber optic cable sensor with bed materials (e.g., seafloor, lakebed, stream bed). Heat conduction from the bed materials can affect cable temperature and the resulting DTS measurements. In the Middle Fork John Day River, apparent water temperature measurements were influenced by cable sensor contact with aquatic vegetation and fine sediment bed materials. Affected cable segments measured a diurnal temperature range reduced by 10% and lagged by 20–40 min relative to that of ambient stream temperature. The diurnal temperature range deeper within the vegetation–sediment bed material was reduced 70% and lagged 240min relative to ambient stream temperature. These site-specific results illustrate the potential magnitude of bed-conduction impacts with buried DTS measurements. Researchers who deploy DTS for water temperature monitoring should understand the importance of the environment into which the cable is placed on the range and phase of temperature measurements.
  • This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems (GI). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in GI. The published article is copyrighted by the author(s) and published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union. The published article can be found at: The final revised paper is available at:
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  • O'Donnell Meininger, T., & Selker, J. S. (2014). Technical Note: Bed conduction impact on fiber optic DTS water temperature measurements. Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems Discussions, 4, 375-384. doi: doi:10.5194/gid-4-375-2014
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  • 4
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  • This work was made possible by the generous collaboration of the Confederated Tribes of the Warms Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWSRO) and funded by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the National Science Foundation award 0930061.
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