Soil Moisture & Soil Temperature Workshop to Support Climate Monitoring

The Air Resources Laboratory will host an important workshop: Measurement of Soil Moisture and Soil Temperature from March 3-5, 2009 at ARL’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD)in Oak Ridge, TN. This workshop is being supported by ATDD and NESDIS’s National Climatic Data Center. The workshop will focus on advances in surface climate monitoring and research facilities located throughout the United States. Participants include experts from NOAA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, several universities and state agencies who will address a broad range of critical issues centering on measuring soil moisture and soil temperature. The purpose of the workshop is to advance our understanding of the variability of soil moisture and soil temperature and the need for long-term measurements encompassing the various climate and vegetation regimes across the United States. Information from the workshop will be used immediately by the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) program in order to generate comprehensive surface observations which aid in predicting important weather and climate phenomena.

Background: The USCRN program has developed full capabilities in above-ground climate observations. These capabilities include measuring precipitation and air temperature continuously at high resolution using state-of-the-art micro-meteorological instrumentations. The program focuses on obtaining continuous field measurements and providing data products that advance climate studies. The program has established several well-instrumented ground stations at many sites representing different land use and climate zones in nearly all 50 states. With recent advancements in new sensors to measure below the soil surface, the USCRN can now take advantage of soil temperature and soil moisture measurements.

Significance: Soil moisture and soil temperature are characterized by dramatic changes, which can vary in time and space, depending on soil types, land use, vegetation, time of year, and climate. This variation is important to understand because it can drive (influence) what events develop in the atmosphere. In order to understand these events within a year and between years, there needs to be high-resolution and continuous extensive data sets. Below-ground observations, such as soil temperature and soil moisture, are expected to expand the ground-truth data sets that will significantly extend the current capabilities and usefulness of the USCRN program. Ultimately, climate and weather products will be significantly improved with accurate land surface measurements that include soil temperature and soil moisture. The determination of drought conditions across the United States is an important example where soil moisture data would have a direct, immediate benefit.

For More Information, contact:Dr. Tilden Meyers