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Upper Washita River Experimental Watersheds: Multiyear Stability of Soil Water Content Profiles

Michael H. Cosh, Patrick J. Starks, Jorge A. Guzman, Daniel N. Moriasi
Journal of environmental quality 2014 v.43 no.4 pp. 1328-1333
environmental monitoring, hydrologic data, hydrologic models, rhizosphere, rivers, soil depth, soil water, soil water content, spatial distribution, temporal variation, time series analysis, watersheds, Oklahoma
Scaling in situ soil water content time series data to a large spatial domain is a key element of watershed environmental monitoring and modeling. The primary method of estimating and monitoring large-scale soil water content distributions is via in situ networks. It is critical to establish the stability of in situ networks when deploying them to study hydrologic systems. Two watersheds in Oklahoma, the Little Washita River Experimental Watershed (LWREW) and the Fort Cobb Reservoir Experimental Watershed (FCREW), are two prime examples of well-equipped research watersheds that provide long-term measurements of atmospheric and soil water content from in situ networks. The soil water content measurement network on the LWREW has been in operation since 2002, with 20 stations available for investigating soil water dynamics at the watershed scale. Temporal stability analysis of the network is complicated by the changing configuration of the network, but it is possible to determine a singular long-term average for the network. The FCREW consists of 15 soil water content stations and began operation in 2007, providing detailed information across a mixed agricultural domain and was determined to be stable and representative of the region. This study reinforces the applicability of temporal stability analysis to very long time scales, which are now becoming available for soil moisture monitoring. Each of these networks is temporally stable with respect to soil water content at each depth on a spatial basis. The LWREW has a persistent pattern through the root zone profile, but the FCREW does not, which requires further investigation.