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USACE Upper Missouri River Basin Soil Moisture and Plains Snow Monitoring Build-Out

Main Summary

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is funding the buildout of over 500 soil moisture and snowpack monitoring stations by five state mesonets in the Upper Missouri River Basin (Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming). The project focus is on the plains or lowlands of the UMRB (areas below 5,500 feet).

The stations will provide high-quality “total water” monitoring (precipitation, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, air temperature, relative humidity, snow depth, and soil moisture), and will include soil characterization at each station to be performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

The data will be used by both the USACE and NOAA’s National Weather Service to support improved river and runoff modeling, a foundation for USACE and Bureau of Reclamation reservoir management. The data will also be available via the National Weather Service’s National Mesonet Program to support other federal, state, and local agencies on a wide range of research and applications, including flood and drought early warning, water supply forecasts, fire hazard assessments, agricultural management, and more. NIDIS is serving as lead of a related Congressionally-mandated Upper Missouri River Basin Data Value Study to examine how the project data will help to improve key hydrologic and related products.

This project is a key initiative of the NIDIS-sponsored National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network

For more information:

You can also watch a PBS report on how this project will help farmers and ranchers anticipate and manage drought and other conditions.

Project Snapshot

Research Timeline
2020 – 2027
Principal Investigator(s)
Ryan Larsen, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Project Funding
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

What to expect from this project

  • Expansion of the in situ soil moisture monitoring network across five states in the Upper Missouri River Basin: Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
  • Data and research sharing with the National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network and other federal and state agencies.
  • Development of new forecast products for hydrological conditions using soil moisture and plains snow data.

Key Regions

Research Scope
DEWS Region(s)