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Synoptic soil moisture measured at plot scales across the Mid-Atlantic region

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Created: Jul 12, 2021 at 2:22 p.m.
Last updated: Jul 12, 2021 at 3:13 p.m.
DOI: 10.4211/hs.978800dab1b04e2d95a5af944963af3f
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This file contains the raw synoptic soil moisture measurements reported and analyzed in Scaife et al., 2021. In this study, we synthesized measurements of soil moisture collected at the plot scale (defined as an area less than 100 m2) from across 212 sites in eight catchments over three regions of the eastern U.S. These sites included a range of land uses, landcovers, geomorphology, and soil conditions. Soil moisture was measured by several researchers over a period from 2001 to 2015 using comparable methods. The sampling strategies focused on spatial variation in soil moisture at plot and hillslope scales to capture spatial patterns within plots and along hillslopes. As a result, all sites were sampled from riparian or near stream to upland although there were variable arrangements of sampling plots within each watershed. Plots were sampled on weekly to monthly intervals depending on the site and season.

Soil moisture was measured using a standard handheld TH2O Thetaprobe ML2x (Dynamax, Inc, Houston, TX) to a 6 cm depth equal to the prong length. To insert the probe, the organic rich litter layer was removed exposing mineral soil and the probe was vertically inserted. Measurements were replicated 10 to 20 times per plot and made 24 hours or more after rainfall cessation to minimize the impacts of storms. Locations of each individual measurement within a 25 m2 plot was determined using a “random walk”. Replicating soil moisture measurements 10 to 20 times in each plot provides greater confidence in estimates of average soil moisture and helps characterize spatial heterogeneity of soil moisture at a given wetness level. Soil moisture was reported as the volumetric water content which relates the volume of water to the volume of soil with units vol/vol.

For more information, see the published manuscript: Scaife, C.I., Duncan, J.M., Lin, L., Tague, C., Band L.E. (2021). Are spatial patterns of soil moisture at plot scales generalizable across catchments, climates, and other characteristics? A synthesis of synoptic soil moisture across the Mid-Atlantic. Hydrological Processes.

Subject Keywords



Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
Coweeta LTER; BES LTER; Mecklenberg County, NC
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude


Start Date:
End Date:


Additional Metadata

Name Value
Columns 1: SiteID - four letter name of each watershed 2: PlotID - name of plot within each watershed/site 3: DateMeasured - the specific date each plot was measured 4: sm_min - soil moisture measured as either % or vol/vol for mineral soil
Description dataSynopticRaw_12-May-2020.mat is Matlab file that contains a single table with all soil moisture measurements. This table was collated from Excel spreadsheets and text files contains measurements from individual sites. This combined file contains over 40000 rows.


Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program DEB-1637522, DEB-1440485, DEB-0823293, DEB‐9714835


People or Organizations that contributed technically, materially, financially, or provided general support for the creation of the resource's content but are not considered authors.

Name Organization Address Phone Author Identifiers
Colin Bell City and County of Denver
Laurence Lin University of Virginia;University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill NC, US
Christina Naomi Tague University of California, Santa Barbara California, US
Lawrence Band University of Virginia Virginia, US
Jon Duncan Penn State University PA, US 8148657554

How to Cite

Scaife, C. I., J. Duncan, L. Lin, C. N. Tague, C. Bell, L. Band (2021). Synoptic soil moisture measured at plot scales across the Mid-Atlantic region, HydroShare,

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