Description: Summer research efforts continue in July with the SGP99 Hydrology Campaign headed by the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Other participants are the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the ARM Program. This campaign focuses on measuring soil moisture by using satellite-based instruments and takes place July 7--22, 1999. Soil moisture is an important component of Earth's hydrologic cycle and climate, but the understanding of it and the ability to measure it accurately are limited. Scientists need to understand soil moisture better so that it can be incorporated correctly into general circulation models. As an important factor in growing crops, soil moisture dictates a farmer's success or failure. Too much soil moisture can drown out croplands and cause flooding, whereas too little can lead to drought conditions, robbing crops of their life-supporting water. Decisions about which crops to plant and other land use issues depend on the understanding of soil moisture patterns. Soil moisture can be measured in various ways. ARM employs several direct methods using soil moisture probes buried from 1 inch to 6.5 feet below the surface. One type of probe has two stainless steel screens separated by a piece of fiberglass. Electrical resistance, which is a function of soil moisture content, is measured between the screens. Another type of probe measures soil temperature and the increase in temperature after the soil is heated by small heating element. From this measurement, the volume of water in the soil can be calculated.
Date: July 30, 1999
Creator: Sisterson, D. L.