Outdoor StreamLab


Located adjacent to SAFL, the Outdoor StreamLab (OSL) is an experimental stream channel and floodplain system that offers laboratory-quality measurements and control in a field-scale setting. Measurement equipment in the OSL includes flow sensors, water chemistry sensors, and a data collection carriage. With a water inflow rate of up to 1,200 liters per second from the Mississippi River, water flows through the OSL channel and floodplain, through a sediment settling basin, and back into the Mississippi River.

This facility can be use for a variety of hydrological, ecological, and biological research opportunities, including but not limited to channel & floodplain interactions, vegetation & channel dynamics, and biogeochemical processes. The facility was developed by SAFL and the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED), and brings together river scientists, engineers, and managers to explore river flow and riparian zone ecology.

We welcome projects that make use of our unique stream research facility. 

Please contact the OSL Research Manager Jessica Kozarek (jkozarek@umn.edu or 612-624-4679) for more information.

Facility Specifications

  • Basin size (includes channel and floodplain): 20 x 40 m 
  • Flow rate: 40 - 1,200 L/s
  • Average channel width: 2.5 m
  • Channel depth: 0.3 m
  • D50 sediment size: 
Watch the video below to learn more about the OSL

The Outdoor StreamLab is uniquely equipped to:

  • Quantify physical, chemical, and biological processes from microscopic to reach scales with high-resolution laboratory-quality measurements
  • Conduct hydrological and ecological field-scale experiments under controlled conditions
  • Impose and repeat steady and unsteady inlet hydrographs, including overbank floods
  • Provide verification for advanced computational models
  • Host highly visible formal and informal education