Operational Soil Moisture Estimation for the Midwestern United States

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  • 1 Midwestern Climate Center, Office of Applied Climatology, Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, Illinois
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Abstract

An operational soil moisture monitoring capability for the midwestern United States is developed using a multilayer soil water balance model which incorporates daily weather data to calculate precipitation, soil evaporation, plant transpiration, runoff, and drainage through the soil profile. The effects of vegetation on soil evaporation and plant transpiration are incorporated through the use of a model for the growth and development of corn. Data requirements include daily observations of maximum temperature, minimum temperature, and precipitation and hourly observations of cloud cover, humidity, and wind speed; these data are collected in real time and aggregated on a climate division scale. The average characteristics of the dominant soils in each climate division are used as representative of that climate division. Using these weather and soils data, the model makes estimates of the current soil moisture status on a climate division basis updated daily. Historical soil moisture estimates using this same model were generated for the period 1949–89 to provide an historical perspective on current soil moisture estimates. This information is accessible to the public through a dial-up computer information system.

Abstract

An operational soil moisture monitoring capability for the midwestern United States is developed using a multilayer soil water balance model which incorporates daily weather data to calculate precipitation, soil evaporation, plant transpiration, runoff, and drainage through the soil profile. The effects of vegetation on soil evaporation and plant transpiration are incorporated through the use of a model for the growth and development of corn. Data requirements include daily observations of maximum temperature, minimum temperature, and precipitation and hourly observations of cloud cover, humidity, and wind speed; these data are collected in real time and aggregated on a climate division scale. The average characteristics of the dominant soils in each climate division are used as representative of that climate division. Using these weather and soils data, the model makes estimates of the current soil moisture status on a climate division basis updated daily. Historical soil moisture estimates using this same model were generated for the period 1949–89 to provide an historical perspective on current soil moisture estimates. This information is accessible to the public through a dial-up computer information system.

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