Study points to potentially harmful increase in golf course stream temperatures

BOURNE, MA, Oct. 20, 2009 -- The green movement impacts many aspects of the golfing industry, and has led to a heightened focus on the role courses have on local environments...

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BOURNE, MA, Oct. 20, 2009 -- The green movement impacts many aspects of the golfing industry, and has led to a heightened focus on the role courses have on local environments.

While researchers have traditionally looked at the impact of course runoff and potential non-point source pollution on stream chemistry, significantly less work has been done on studying their effects on physical characteristics like stream water temperature.

Kevin Ashman, a researcher with Georgia Southern University, and his team recently studied a comparative analysis of stream water temperatures at six different golf courses in Greenville, South Carolina. Ashman monitored the water temperatures of the streams at each course, specifically in locations where there are continuous, tributary-free and lake-free reaches that pass through the golf course grounds.

"We chose a continuous, tributary-free stretch of stream to make sure that our results only reflected temperature changes caused by the golf course," explains Ashman. "We also chose a lake-free stretch of the stream to show that even without a lake, which could impact stream temperatures, there were still significant temperature increases downstream."

As part of their monitoring strategy, Ashman and his team chose HOBO® Water Temp Pro v2 temperature loggers from Massachusetts-based Onset Computer Corporation.

The loggers, roughly the size of a miniature flashlight, were secured to the bottom of the streams at each of the selected courses, and water temperature measurements were taken at five-minute intervals at sites upstream and downstream away from the course.

"Setting up the loggers for deployment was quick and easy and we were able to offload the data on-site," says Ashman.

The data loggers provide ±0.2°C accuracy over a wide temperature range and offer a 42,000 measurement storage capacity, making them suitable for long-term deployments.

Data from the loggers were offloaded directly to a laptop via a USB-based optical interface. The data was analyzed using HOBOware® Pro graphing and analysis software, which converted the collected data into easy-to-read graphs that reveal spikes in water temperatures.

In addition to water temperatures, a number of other parameters were monitored along the golf course stream reach including stream discharge measurements under baseflow conditions, stream length between sampling sites, the extent of riparian cover along the stream banks, and any human alterations to the stream's channel.

"The data revealed consistently higher stream water temperatures on the order of 4°F - 10°F during the afternoon hours, and significantly larger diurnal temperature ranges -- typically two to three times larger -- compared to their upstream counterparts," says Ashman.

According to Ashman, the temperature differences between the up and downstream sites were primarily due to the lack of riparian cover along the golf course reaches, and to a lesser extent, alterations in the stream channel's structure.

"Although the impacts of these temperature modifications on the ecology, biology, and chemistry of the stream system are not known, the magnitude of the temperature change is large enough to be of potential consequence," says Ashman.

About Onset
Onset is the world's leading supplier of data loggers. The company's HOBO data logger and weather station products are used around the world in a broad range of monitoring applications, from verifying the performance of green buildings and renewable energy systems to agricultural and coastal research. Based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Onset has sold more than one million data loggers since the company's founding in 1981. Visit Onset on the web at http://www.onsetcomp.com.

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