The Barros research group has installed a research-grade precipitation monitoring network in the Pigeon River Basin (PRB) in Western North Carolina. One meteorological tower and 32 rain gauges are currently deployed at high-elevation locations along ridgelines. In addition to collecting data from these instruments, which have been in the field for as long as three years, the group has conducted several Intensive Observation Periods (IOPs), at Purchase Knob, a central location along the Cataloochee Ridge in the PRB. These IOPs focused on the vertical structure and spatial variability of moderate and light rainfall in the inner mountain region. For example, in summer 2008 the IOP included the coordinated deployment of radiosondes, a tethersonde system, and microphysical characterization using disdrometers, high-speed camera and radar observations.
The image above shows our network in purple circles (NASA PMM). It includes all other hydrological data sources in the region that we are able to use in our research. Note the contrast in gauge locations in the existing network compared with our new gauges: the new gauges are installed at high elevations on N-S ridges across the Appalachian range in the W-E direction, thus providing a unique perspective on storm systems coming from any direction as well as isolated activity developing locally in the inner mountain region.