Institute For Environmental Studies

Solar-powered, 4G connected, water level sensors and more!

February 1, 2020.  One of the biggest challenges faced by those of us who study natural systems is the difficulty in monitoring conditions when personnel can't be on-site. With help from the Moline Conservation Club (MCC), WIU Environmental Science researchers are now able to collect water and atmospheric data that are distributed spatially and temporally using three OnSet MicroRX Water Level Stations (WLSs; These units serve as a hub for sensors that are monitored and controlled via a 4G cell signal. When combined with reliable solar power, these systems will provide us with unprecedented abilities to go from discrete “grab” sampling to the continuous acquisition of data.

In Spring 2020, the three units will be installed at the Quad Cities Conservation Alliance's 60+ acre wetland complex in East Moline, IL.  Water levels will be monitored at a stream that feeds the lake, in the lake, and at the outlet from the wetland (see map, below).

Aerial map of QCCA wetland complex

To collect microclimate data, the station located in the lake is equipped to measure photosynthetically active radiation, visible light, air temperature, barometric pressure, dew point, relative humidity, and rainfall.

In addition to collecting data using a remote connection, we're able to share a variety of information with everyone using online dashboards.  Currently, we're testing the new units indoors before we deploy them in the field.

Be on the lookout for updates as we test and deploy these units in the field.