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  • Author or Editor: Tyson E. Ochsner x
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Bethany L. Scott
,
Tyson E. Ochsner
,
Bradley G. Illston
,
Christopher A. Fiebrich
,
Jeffery B. Basara
, and
Albert J. Sutherland

Abstract

Soil moisture data from the Oklahoma Mesonet are widely used in research efforts spanning many disciplines within Earth sciences. These soil moisture estimates are derived by translating measurements of matric potential into volumetric water content through site- and depth-specific water retention curves. The objective of this research was to increase the accuracy of the Oklahoma Mesonet soil moisture data through improved estimates of the water retention curve parameters. A comprehensive field sampling and laboratory measurement effort was conducted that resulted in new measurements of the percent of sand, silt, and clay; bulk density; and volumetric water content at −33 and −1500 kPa. These inputs were provided to the Rosetta pedotransfer function, and parameters for the water retention curve and hydraulic conductivity functions were obtained. The resulting soil property database, MesoSoil, includes 13 soil physical properties for 545 individual soil layers across 117 Oklahoma Mesonet sites. The root-mean-square difference (RMSD) between the resulting soil moisture estimates and those obtained by direct sampling was reduced from 0.078 to 0.053 cm3 cm−3 by use of the new water retention curve parameters, a 32% improvement. A >0.15 cm3 cm−3 high bias on the dry end was also largely eliminated by using the new parameters. Reanalysis of prior studies that used Oklahoma Mesonet soil moisture data may be warranted given these improvements. No other large-scale soil moisture monitoring network has a comparable published soil property database or has undergone such comprehensive in situ validation.

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C. Bruce Baker
,
Michael Cosh
,
John Bolten
,
Mark Brusberg
,
Todd Caldwell
,
Stephanie Connolly
,
Iliyana Dobreva
,
Nathan Edwards
,
Peter E. Goble
,
Tyson E. Ochsner
,
Steven M. Quiring
,
Michael Robotham
,
Marina Skumanich
,
Mark Svoboda
,
W. Alex White
, and
Molly Woloszyn

Abstract

Soil moisture is a critical land surface variable, impacting the water, energy, and carbon cycles. While in situ soil moisture monitoring networks are still developing, there is no cohesive strategy or framework to coordinate, integrate, or disseminate these diverse data sources in a synergistic way that can improve our ability to understand climate variability at the national, state, and local levels. Thus, a national strategy is needed to guide network deployment, sustainable network operation, data integration and dissemination, and user-focused product development. The National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network (NCSMMN) is a federally led, multi-institution effort that aims to address these needs by capitalizing on existing wide-ranging soil moisture monitoring activities, increasing the utility of observational data, and supporting their strategic application to the full range of decision-making needs. The goals of the NCSMMN are to 1) establish a national “network of networks” that effectively demonstrates data integration and operational coordination of diverse in situ networks; 2) build a community of practice around soil moisture measurement, interpretation, and application—a “network of people” that links data providers, researchers, and the public; and 3) support research and development (R&D) on techniques to merge in situ soil moisture data with remotely sensed and modeled hydrologic data to create user-friendly soil moisture maps and associated tools. The overarching mission of the NCSMMN is to provide coordinated high-quality, nationwide soil moisture information for the public good by supporting applications like drought and flood monitoring, water resource management, agricultural and forestry planning, and fire danger ratings.

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