20 An Evaluation of Recent U.S. Drought Events Using a Newly Available Standardized Soil Moisture Dataset

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Ronald D. Leeper, North Carolina State Univ., Asheville, NC

Soil moisture is an important component of the hydrological cycle and yet not readily available to support hydrological analysis of extreme conditions; drought and flooding. One of the main challenges of utilizing in situ soil moisture observations is the sensitivity of volumetric conditions to soil characteristics, local topography, and regional climate. This inferential issue makes it challenging to distinguish soil moisture observations between wet, typical, or dry conditions. Moreover, even with improved availability of soil moisture observations through satellites or expansion of current observational networks at near-real time availability, interpretation of these datasets to make informed decisions will be limited without some effort to standardize soil moisture observations.

Recently, the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) have proposed a methodology to standardize soil moisture observations. In this study, the newly standardized soil moisture observations will be evaluated over the central U.S. 2012 and Dakotas 2012 droughts. The multi depth analysis will include comparisons with commonly used drought indices (Palmers and SPEI) and the U.S. drought monitor. The goal of this project is to evaluate soil moisture responses to drought intensification and amelioration with respect to drought indices currently in use by the drought community.

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