Soil moisture is an integral part of the hydrologic cycle and is an important method for establishing the severity of drought. Unfortunately, most locations in the United States rely solely on model output for determination of soil moisture status. In Nebraska, we are privileged to have daily soil water content measurements at sites in the Automated Weather Data Network (AWDN). Fourteen of these locations have reliable soil moisture data dating back to the late 1990’s and these data are the focal point of our soil moisture research. Since the first year(s) of soil moisture implementation in the AWDN, the entire state of Nebraska has experienced long periods of precipitation deficits and corresponding drought impacts. The main goal of this project is to use archived soil moisture data as a method to determine the severity and duration of drought and see how it holds up compared with other drought indices.
NDMC contributor: Eric Hunt, grad student, Don Wilhite, director, School of Natural Resources
External collaborators: Dr. Ken Hubbard and Bill Sorensen, High Plains Regional Climate Center
Sponsors: HPRCC and NDMC