Evaluation of the 2014 California Drought with Soil Observations from NOAA's U.S. Climate Reference Network

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Jesse Eugene Bell, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellite North Carolina State, Asheville, NC, United States
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s United States Climate Reference Network (USCRN) recently in 2009 to 2011 deployed soil moisture sensors to monitor the temporal and spatial variability of soil moisture at 114 locations in the contiguous United States. These soil observations will enhance our understanding of changing soil conditions for a variety of applications. For example, national drought status may be more readily evaluated with a uniform set of observations of soil moisture conditions across representative domains. In the years following deployment of the soil sensors, a series of extreme droughts spread across much of the United States and provided an opportunity to evaluate the relative soil moisture change under drought conditions across the network. The goal of this presentation is take a systematic look at the soil moisture conditions during the 2012 drought and 2014 drought to determine the unique qualities of each drought and identify some of the difficulties of determining a drought signal from soil conditions. The analyses reported in this presentation demonstrates how USCRN can be used to monitor national soil moisture conditions relevant to the assessment of drought, and provide a standard set of measurements for soil climate monitoring.