Using Data Loggers for Outdoor Environmental Monitoring

Many outdoor environmental research projects require long term monitoring of parameters including temperature, relative humidity and count inputs. Applications include monitoring weather and climatic conditions, wildlife research, growing conditions, and rivers and oceans.

Tinytag data logger temperature monitoring in a soil pipe

In choosing the correct data logger, various factors need to be taken into consideration. It is essential that loggers will record accurately and reliably, possibly over a prolonged period of time if they are located in remote areas: for wildlife research, this is also an important factor in order to minimise intrusion into the natural habitat. This will require a long battery life and a high recording capacity. Loggers will need to be robust as they may well be exposed to harsh environmental and weather conditions, and for water-based research, they may need to be fully submersible. Ideally loggers should have a magnetic trigger and/or delayed start option so they can be started anywhere at a pre-set time without the need for a PC.

Loggers in the Tinytag range meet these criteria and are suitable for monitoring in the harshest conditions. Tinytags are used for many environmental research applications, ranging from individual loggers recording locally to multiple devices used for large-scale monitoring.

Temperature and relative humidity data loggers

Tinytag Plus 2 temperature/relative humidity loggers are a popular choice: their robust, waterproof design, plus their reliability, long battery life and high memory capacity means they can be deployed for long-term data collection in exposed conditions in remote areas. Plus 2 data loggers are used for a variety of environmental research projects worldwide including weather observation, glacial research in the Himalayas, researching marine turtles' nests, and restoration of UK grasslands.

A robust design may not just be the need to be weatherproof, data loggers may need to be strong enough to counter the attention of the local wildlife! Tinytag Plus 2 loggers recording temperatures to aid planting decisions at Bedgebury National Pinetum have repeatedly withstood the onslaught of the local rabbit population who enjoy using them for sharpening their teeth!

For some applications it may be an advantage to have a data logger with a display showing current readings, as well as recording data. Tinytag View 2 temp/RH data loggers have an LCD display and have been used, for example, in investigating conditions in honeybee hives as part of conservation research. Like the Plus 2 range, View 2 loggers are available with accompanying probes for monitoring hard to reach areas.

The Tinytag Aquatic 2 submersible data logger is specifically designed for underwater applications. It is used for temperature monitoring in rivers, lakes and oceans, typically to record the effects of weather and climate change, and also in fish farms. It can be submerged at depths up to 500 metres for long periods, and its robust, high visibility bright yellow case has an attachment point allowing it to be securely positioned. For example, Aquatic loggers have been deployed 200km north of the Arctic Circle in a glacial river basin as part of research into climate change.

When downloading loggers in harsh or wet environments, it is helpful to avoid exposing connections. Data from the Aquatic 2 is offloaded very quickly and easily using the inductive pad. The logger is simply placed on the pad, which plugs into the PC with a USB cable, removing the need to directly connect a cable to each logger. As well as avoiding exposing connections, this speeds up the configuration and offloading of multiple loggers.

Count data loggers

Count data loggers are used in outdoor research, typically for investigating climate and environmental change. Tinytag Plus Re-Ed count input loggers can be connected to a variety of sensors to make specialist data loggers for a wide range of applications. Re-Ed loggers are either supplied uncased (OEM) for building into custom applications, or as a standard data logger in a robust, waterproof case.

For example, Re-Ed count loggers have been used for studying sediment movement in rivers, investigating the development of stalagmites, and for high resolution rainfall monitoring.

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