Impact of lack of rain seen on LIS soil moisture imagery

NASA SPoRT has developed a real-time configuration of the NASA Land Information System (LIS) that runs over much of the central and eastern United States at 3-km grid spacing.  The LIS produces several products, including a suite of soil moisture products that can be used to help assess drought and flooding potential.  WFO Raleigh is pleased to be participating (along with WFOs Houston and Huntsville) in an assessment of these products from August through October.

Central North Carolina has been in a short-term relative dry spell of late, with much of the area having seen little to no rainfall in the last week (Fig. 1). One ramification of this lack of rainfall is the soil drying evident in the 1-week difference in column relative soil moisture imagery (Fig. 2), which shows marked drying over all of Central NC in the last week. Interestingly, in coastal sections of NC that actually have seen some rainfall in the last week, the soil drying has been even more pronounced. Reasons for this are unclear, but it may have to do with the soil type over Eastern NC.

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Fig. 1. Seven-day rainfall over North Carolina, for the period ending at 8 am EDT 1 September 2014.

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Fig. 2. One-week difference in column relative soil moisture (%) over North Carolina, for the period ending at 8 pm EDT 31 August 2014.

2 thoughts on “Impact of lack of rain seen on LIS soil moisture imagery

  1. Nice post! It is definitely interesting that there was more drying over SE NC where there was actually some rain. However, this appears to be relatively light rain (0.1-0.5 in. over a one week period), which might not be enough to substantively change soil moisture conditions–especially in regions where soils are easily dried out. Does the Raleigh office have any tools, such as GIS maps of soil type that can be interrogated to figure out the soil characteristics?

  2. I concur with Brad. Thanks for the post! You surmised well that the sandier soil characteristics of eastern North Carolina most likely led to the enhanced drying, despite some nominal rainfall over the past week. I will post a follow-up blog post showing the soil type characteristics map across North Carolina, which should help to complement this post.

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