2012 journal article

Characterizing Soil Physical Properties for Soil Moisture Monitoring with the North Carolina Environment and Climate Observing Network


By: W. Pan n, R. Boyles, J. White & J. Heitman

Source: Web Of Science
Added: August 6, 2018

Abstract Soil moisture has important implications for meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and agriculture. This has led to growing interest in development of in situ soil moisture monitoring networks. Measurement interpretation is severely limited without soil property data. In North Carolina, soil moisture has been monitored since 1999 as a routine parameter in the statewide Environment and Climate Observing Network (ECONet), but with little soils information available for ECONet sites. The objective of this paper is to provide soils data for ECONet development. The authors studied soil physical properties at 27 ECONet sites and generated a database with 13 soil physical parameters, including sand, silt, and clay contents; bulk density; total porosity; saturated hydraulic conductivity; air-dried water content; and water retention at six pressures. Soil properties were highly variable among individual ECONet sites [coefficients of variation (CVs) ranging from 12% to 80%]. This wide range of properties suggests very different behavior among sites with respect to soil moisture. A principal component analysis indicated parameter groupings associated primarily with soil texture, bulk density, and air-dried water content accounted for 80% of the total variance in the dataset. These results suggested that a few specific soil properties could be measured to provide an understanding of differences in sites with respect to major soil properties. The authors also illustrate how the measured soil properties have been used to develop new soil moisture products and data screening for the North Carolina ECONet. The methods, analysis, and results presented here have applications to North Carolina and for other regions with heterogeneous soils where soil moisture monitoring is valuable.