Did we get your attention (hehehe)? Actually, this is an experimental US Forests Service road data device called the Belford recording gage that is used as part of the agency’s Historic Archives Inform Infrastructure Resilience Project. The contraption measures and records precipitation volume, intensity, and duration. Historically, this was measured by a pen-trace on a strip chart, which then had to be digitized into a format that could be used for analysis.
Many national and experimental forests are crisscrossed by gravel roads that contain culverts and other drainage structures. Some culverts may be overdue for maintenance, while others may be too small for extreme rainfall events. U.S.F.S. Southern Research Station scientists began assessing the capacity of these structures in 2016. The project spans the SRS Experimental Forest network.
The design of most storm water routing structures is based on historic or current climate conditions. However, precipitation conditions are shifting and projected to keep changing in the future. Understanding the influence of these changes in precipitation intensity, duration, and frequency, the resulting storm water responses, and vulnerability of infrastructure from headwater catchments to watershed outlets is key to the design of sustainable road systems.
The project is focusing on three southern Experimental Forests (EFs) with different elevations and ecoregions: Alum Creek EF in central Arkansas, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in the mountains of North Carolina, and Santee EF in the coastal plain of South Carolina.
Eventually, the project will inform design and management of road infrastructure for resiliency. A pilot study on the Francis Marion National Forest is beginning to use early results from this work to aid in the development of the National Transportation Resiliency Guidebook.