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Soil Moisture

According to NASA’s Earth Science Office, soil moisture means different things in different disciplines. A farmer’s concept of soil moisture is different from that of a water resource manager or a weather forecaster. Generally, however, soil moisture is the water that is held in the spaces between soil particles. Surface soil moisture is the water that is in the upper 10 cm of soil, whereas root zone soil moisture is the water that is available to plants, which is generally considered to be in the upper 200 cm of soil.
For more information, see the 2013 report, “Developing a Coordinated National Soil Moisture Network” and the 2016 report, “Progress made, future directions.

NIDIS and Soil Moisture

Front cover of the NIDIS & Soil Moisture document

Soil moisture is a vital part of the water budget, yet an accurate depiction of this variable has been a serious challenge over the past several decades. In response to this need, NIDIS and USDA are co-leading the development of a strategy for nation-wide monitoring of soil moisture. The goals of the National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network (NCSMMN) are to establish a national network that integrates multiple soil moisture data sources across federal and state in-situ monitoring networks, satellite remote sensing missions, and numerous modeling capabilities.

Read more about NIDIS and Soil Moisture



Soil Moisture Data and Tools

Sample of Crop Moisture Index
Weekly measurement of short-term needs vs. available water (dry to wet).
map of US shows different levels of short/very short soil moisture
(Click for actual conditions)
map of US shows soil moisture levels
(Click for actual conditions daily and monthly, as well as seasonal anomalies)
map of US and Mexico shows soil moisture percentiles for a certain date
Current percentiles for soil moisture, snow-water equivalents (SWE) and other variables with respect to the climatological period. (Click for actual conditions)
map of most of North America shows locations of SCAN soil moisture monitors
Interactive U.S. map of snow conditions, precipitation, streamflow and reservoir storage. (Click for actual conditions)
map of us shows how much wetter or drier soil moisture has become
Maps show most recent daily, monthly and 12-month calculated soil moisture, anomalies and percentiles. (Click for actual conditions)
map of US shows soil moisture anomalies
Anomalies and percentiles of soil moisture for different timescales. (Click for actual conditions)
map of US shows soil moisture anomalies
Multiple maps show soil moisture totals, anomalies, change and more. (Click for actual conditions)
map of US shows satellite-derived readings of soil moisture
Water storage observations derived from satellite data, integrated with other observations. (Click for actual conditions)
US map shows soil moisture anomalie
Outlooks for the next two weeks, month, and season. (Click for actual conditions)
map of US with key to customizable data overlays
Visualize soil moisture, drought and climate information through interactive mapping of information from NIDIS partners.
map of North America showing locations of soil moisture monitors
Climate Reference Network (CRN) and Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) are a collection of climate monitoring stations which track, among other things, soil moisture and temperature at a series of depths.