Articles | Volume 4, issue 1
Research article
02 Feb 2015
Research article |  | 02 Feb 2015

Bed conduction impact on fiber optic distributed temperature sensing water temperature measurements

T. O'Donnell Meininger and J. S. Selker

Abstract. Error in distributed temperature sensing (DTS) water temperature measurements may be introduced by contact of the fiber optic cable sensor with bed materials (e.g., seafloor, lakebed, streambed). 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 240 min 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.