Extending the soil moisture data record of the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) and Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN)

Evan J. Coopersmith, Jesse E. Bell, Michael H. Cosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Soil moisture estimates are valuable for hydrologic modeling, drought prediction and management, climate change analysis, and agricultural decision support. However, in situ measurements of soil moisture have only become available within the past few decades with additional sensors being installed each year. Comparing newer in situ resources with older resources, previously required a period of cross-calibration, often requiring several years of data collection. One new technique to improve this issue is to develop a methodology to extend the in situ record backwards in time using a soil moisture model and ancillary available data sets. This study will extend the soil moisture record of the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) by calibrating a precipitation-driven model during the most recent few years when soil moisture data are available and applying that model backwards temporally in years where precipitation data are available and soil moisture data are not. This approach is validated by applying the technique to the Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) where the same model is calibrated in recent years and validated during preceding years at locations with a sufficiently long soil moisture record. Results suggest that if two or three years of concurrent precipitation and soil moisture time series data are available, the calibrated model's parameters can be applied historically to produce RMSE values less than 0.033m3/m3. With this approach, in locations characterized by in situ sensors with short or intermittent data records, a model can now be used to fill the relevant gaps and improve the historical record as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-90
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate Reference Network
  • Genetic algorithms
  • Hydrologic modeling
  • Soil Climate Analysis Network
  • Soil moisture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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