Sardon, Spain

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Purpose of Observation:

Main purpose of the Sardon site is the long-term monitoring of groundwater resources. The site, operational since 1994 (making it the longest, continuous groundwater record in the Iberian Peninsula), is considered a perfect site to train ITC students, test methods/ideas and to develop research interacting with education (typically PhD students have been working with Msc students) because, with respect to Water Resources, it is representative for a large part of developing countries where groundwater resources are in fractured rocks and it has a Mediterranean climate, typical for water limited environments which occur frequently in developing countries.

It is characterized by a relatively uniform geology with weathered and fractured granites and geologically-distinct catchment boundaries (~80 km2) covered by a savanna type of vegetation with two different, sparsely distributed phreatophytic oak tree species (deciduous Quercus pyrenaica, evergreen Quercus ilex) and shrubs (Citisius scoparius), i.e. vegetation typical for semiarid and/or arid conditions.

The area has a shallow water table, so with hand operated equipment and students’ work, it was possible to install automated, groundwater monitoring equipment. The area is very scarcely populated area, therefore very little human impact, making it perfect for studies of impact of climate change on groundwater resources. Furthermore the area is logistically very convenient: i) EU country, so no visa required for students; ii) it is safe – since the installation of the equipment, nothing was stolen or damaged; iii) friendly people and no dangerous animals; iv) proximity of the academic towns of Salamanca and La Coruna, providing opportunity for scientific collaborations; v) cheap flights through Madrid; v) convenient opportunity to store our equipment within the study area - storage house.

The monitoring network currently consists of 12 (5 piezometers, 5 deep boreholes and 2 explosive unused wells) groundwater logging recorders and two automated microclimatic stations, one in the upper-southern and the other in the lower-northern part of the catchment. At research peak time there were 16 (8 piezometers, 5 deep boreholes and 3 explosive unused wells) groundwater logging recorders, 2 microclimatic stations, one eddy covariance tower (in the northern part), and an automated river-discharge monitoring section at the large flume installed at the river outlet of the Sardon Catchment.

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