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On August 25, 2022, Marina Skumanich, Program Specialist with NIDIS/National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network, took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion of the Mesonet at SD State, South Dakota's live weather network, as part of the Upper Missouri River Basin Soil Moisture and Plains Snow Build-Out project. 

This project, led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will include the installation of over 500 soil moisture and snowpack monitoring stations by four state mesonets in the region (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming). 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), distributed about every 25 miles over the basin, and will provide a direct benefit to river, weather, and climate applications, including early warning for the hydro extremes of flooding and drought.

Attendees cut a ribbon to celebrate the expansion of the mesonet at South Dakota State University
The SDSU mesonet ribbon cutting ceremony. From left to right: Karla Trautman, Elizabeth Wakeman, Reno Red Cloud (hidden), Jerry Schmitz, Col. Mark Himes, Governor Kristi Noem, Dr. Bill Gibbons, Senator Mike Rounds, Nathan Edwards, Dr. Barry Dunn, Kevin Low, Marina Skumanich, and Andrew Berg. Photo credit: SDSU.

The ribbon cutting was held at the newly upgraded mesonet station located on the South Dakota State Extension Outdoor Campus in Sertoma Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Dignitaries at the event included Senator Mike Rounds; Governor Kristi Noem; SDSU President Barry Dunn; Col. Mark Himes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance board members Elizabeth Wakeman and Reno Red Cloud; Kevin Low of the NOAA Missouri Basin River Forecast Center; SDSU Mesonet Director Nathan Edwards; Andrew Berg of the City of Sioux Falls; and Jerry Schmitz with the South Dakota Soybean Association.

The Upper Missouri River Basin Soil Moisture and Plains Snow Build-Out project is a key initiative of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) sponsored National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network (NCSMMN). This multi-agency, multi-institutional initiative is a collaborative effort among federal agencies, soil moisture scientists, state mesonet operators, and others to plan for and support nationally-coordinated soil moisture monitoring, data assimilation, and product development. 

2022 National Soil Moisture Workshop

Stimulating progress towards realizing the NCSMMN’s vision was a key goal of the 2022 National Soil Moisture Workshop, held on August 9–10, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. The 13th annual National Soil Moisture Workshop provided a unique opportunity for leaders in soil moisture research and development to come together in an interactive format to exchange ideas and develop collaborations across their research areas and with the user community. 

Dr. Michael Cosh accepting the Soil Moisture Community Award
Dr. Michael Cosh accepting the Soil Moisture Community Award. Photo credit: Todd Caldwell, U.S. Geological Survey.

During this event, the workshop organizing committee and the NCSMMN Coordinating Team awarded Dr. Michael Cosh the inaugural Soil Moisture Community Leadership Award. Dr. Cosh is a research hydrologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, where his research interests include in-situ soil moisture network development and assessment, scaling of land surface parameters, and validation of satellite soil moisture products. He has been a leader in the effort to build a coordinated soil moisture information system to serve the country and beyond. He was one of the founding organizers of the Marena Oklahoma In Situ Sensor Testbed (MOISST), as well as the annual National Soil Moisture Workshop. He has also served as chair of the NCSMMN Coordinating Team for several years. 

The Soil Moisture Community Leadership Award will be presented annually at the National Soil Moisture Workshop to that individual, either research- or practitioner-oriented, who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to building the soil moisture community of practice and delivering soil moisture–related products and services to support the public good. 

The workshop was hosted by Ohio State University, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NIDIS. Video recordings of the workshop presentations are available through the NIDIS YouTube channel, or the workshop event page. Or, learn more about the national and regional research supported by the NCSMMN.

To learn more about ongoing activities and priorities of the NCSMMN, see this article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society: "Working Toward a National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network: Vision, Progress, and Future Directions."