, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 497-505,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 10 Feb 2011

Wet/Dry Mapping: Using Citizen Scientists to Monitor the Extent of Perennial Surface Flow in Dryland Regions


Wet/dry mapping provides a low-cost, comprehensive snapshot for monitoring flow conditions in rivers with interrupted perennial (spatially intermittent) surface flow. When used in conjunction with more traditional point-specific stream flow or groundwater measurements, it provides a better understanding of hydrologic systems at the broad landscape or watershed scale. Through use of trained volunteers, we mapped reaches with surface water during the driest time of year to track annual variation in length and location of perennial flow. Data from 12 years of wet/dry mapping on the San Pedro River in Arizona, USA, showed 62 reaches with surface flow in every year, totaling 32% of the river length through the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. They also show areas with high year-to-year variation in flow length, which indicate changes in local groundwater conditions and may provide early warning of ecological changes. Data and maps from this project have been useful for a wide variety of conservation, management, and research efforts.