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MayFly Data Logger During Winter

Home Forums Monitor My Watershed MayFly Data Logger During Winter

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    • #17543

        Out of curiosity, people who use the Mayfly data loggers, how frequently do you take down the station (or take out the sensors) during the winter to prevent damage to the sensors? Or if there are any methods or procedures you take, as far as preventative measures, during winter to protect the systems from getting damaged.  We worry about general damage and are curious to know what others have done. Thank you in advance!

      • #17547


          I’m in south central PA and haven’t taken the probes out of the water for the winter.  It seems like that would defeat the purpose of monitoring conductivity spikes from road salt – after snow storms.

          I know that the CTD probe isn’t supposed to freeze but I am leaving it deployed and checking it weekly when cleaning probes/swapping data cards.

          The mayfly that I am using was deployed by a previous employee (since retired) at a different location and I think that it might have iced over in that deployment.  The depth data that I’ve been collecting has consistently been 265-270mm less that the staff gauge and I’ve been tracking the offset on a spreadsheet.  However, since the week of 12/27/22 the depth offset has been more in the 240mm range.  There was a severe cold snap around/just after Christmas and the edge of the deployment stream was frozen but it didn’t seem, from what I saw, that the probe was frozen or encased in any ice.

          I’m hoping that the data will stabilize at a certain point and that the offset could possibly be programmed into the mayfly so that the depth reading is accurate – but the stabilization may not happen (or the range/variation) may be too great or random.  At which point it would probably be time to replace the mayfly because it is a first generation model that may not have seen the care that it needed.

          So, after all of this, I think that the unit is supposed to remain deployed over the winter, but I’m not sure ho to protect the probe from freezing.  Your board and data ought to be ok otherwise, especially if your battery is getting and providing enough voltage.


        • #17550
          Dave Bressler

            If your sensor is in water that is deep enough so that ice doesn’t form around the sensor itself then you should be ok.  If ice forms around a sensor itself that can be a problem.  The Meter Group Hydros21 CTD sensors have pressure transducers that can break if ice forms around the sensor.  The new model CTD seems to have a pressure transducer that is less vulnerable to freeze damage than the previous model but I think that’s it’s still not totally clear.  @shicks can probably provide the best answer.

          • #17568
            Shannon Hicks

              When we scout an area for a potential CTD sensor installation, one of the top deciding factors is whether that portion of the stream will freeze during extremely cold weather.  Almost all of our sensors are mounted in deep, continuously flowing water.   Most of the time our streams won’t freeze at all in the area around the sensor, or if they do, it’s only the top inch or two.  By installing the sensors at least 12 inches or more below the surface, they aren’t damaged by the ice. There’s a few small tributaries or streams with shallow or slow water that we have to monitor for a particular reason and can’t choose a deeper spot, so we just make sure to pay close attention to the site when extended cold weather is in the forecast.  We’ve got over 200 stations in the Delaware River watershed, and since we only see deep prolonged freezes a few times a year, if at all, our stations typically make it through the winter with no damage.  We’ve only had a few sensors be damaged by ice in the past 5 years, most were in the first year or two of the project before we got good at predicting ice formation areas.  If someone has a sensor in a stream that might freeze and isn’t sure whether or not it will survive some upcoming cold weather, it’s certainly safer to remove the sensor and place it on the streambank (dry it off thoroughly and either hang it somewhere off the ground and protected from rain that might later freeze, or wrap the sensor in a dry towel and place it in a ziploc bag on the shore (in a safe area that won’t be damaged in case of flooding resulting from future snow-melt). Note that freeze damage to pressure sensors is not covered by the manufacturers, so if your sensor is still under warranty and you think it will likely freeze, it’s up to you to decide what to do.  One of our biggest monitoring efforts right now is examining the effects of road salt in our waterways, so being able to measure water depth and conductivity during these winter months is extremely important and worth taking a gamble that we might lose one or two sensors out of 200.  If you are only interested in measuring temperature and conductivity and not depth, then a simpler sensor like Meter Group’s ES-2 conductivity-temperature sensor is a better choice than the CTD, because it doesn’t have the sensitive pressure sensor on it and the housing can be completely incased in ice without damage.

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