We propose a novel, accurate quantification of precipitation and evaporation, as needed to understand fundamental hydrologic processes. Our system uses a collection vessel placed on top of a slender rod that is securely fixed at its base. As the vessel is deflected, either by manual perturbation or ambient forcing (for example, wind), its oscillatory response is measured, here by a miniature accelerometer. This response can be modeled as a damped mass-spring system. As the mass of water within the collection vessel changes, either through the addition of precipitation or by evaporative loss, the resonant frequency experiences an inverse shift. This shift can be measured and used to estimate the change in the mass of water. We tested this concept by creating a simple prototype which was used in field conditions for a period of 1 month. The instrument was able to detect changes in mass due to precipitation with an accuracy of approximately 1 mm.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology