Improved Installation Procedures for Deep-Layer Soil Moisture Measurements

Jeffrey B. Basara Oklahoma Climatological Survey, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Todd M. Crawford Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, National Severe Storms Laboratory, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

The Oklahoma Mesonet, an automated network of 115 meteorological observing stations, includes soil moisture monitoring devices at 60 locations. The Campbell Scientific model 229-L matric potential (water potential) sensor was chosen for operational use based on its capability to perform as a fully automated soil water measuring device. Extensive laboratory calibrations were performed on each sensor to ensure the quality of the matric potential measurements.

Examination of the data from the Norman site during July 1997 revealed significant inconsistencies between near-surface (5 and 25 cm) measurements of soil moisture and deep-layer (60 and 75 cm) measurements of soil moisture. In particular, a heavy precipitation event was followed by only a small increase in near-surface soil water potential values, while a much larger increase occurred in the deep-layer values. It is theorized that an installation flaw is the cause for these inconsistencies. A solution is proposed in the hope that future efforts to measure soil moisture will not be hindered by similar problems.

Corresponding author address: Jeffrey B. Basara, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, 100 E. Boyd St., Suite 1210, Norman, OK 73019.

Email: jbasara@ou.edu

Abstract

The Oklahoma Mesonet, an automated network of 115 meteorological observing stations, includes soil moisture monitoring devices at 60 locations. The Campbell Scientific model 229-L matric potential (water potential) sensor was chosen for operational use based on its capability to perform as a fully automated soil water measuring device. Extensive laboratory calibrations were performed on each sensor to ensure the quality of the matric potential measurements.

Examination of the data from the Norman site during July 1997 revealed significant inconsistencies between near-surface (5 and 25 cm) measurements of soil moisture and deep-layer (60 and 75 cm) measurements of soil moisture. In particular, a heavy precipitation event was followed by only a small increase in near-surface soil water potential values, while a much larger increase occurred in the deep-layer values. It is theorized that an installation flaw is the cause for these inconsistencies. A solution is proposed in the hope that future efforts to measure soil moisture will not be hindered by similar problems.

Corresponding author address: Jeffrey B. Basara, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, 100 E. Boyd St., Suite 1210, Norman, OK 73019.

Email: jbasara@ou.edu

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