This paper presents time stability analyses of soil moisture at different spatial measurement support scales (point scale and airborne remote sensing (RS) footprint scale 800 m × 800 m) in two different hydroclimatic regions. The data used in the analyses consist of in situ and passive microwave remotely sensed soil moisture data from the Southern Great Plains Hydrology Experiments 1997 and 1999 (SGP97 and SGP99) conducted in the Little Washita (LW) watershed, Oklahoma, and the Soil Moisture Experiments 2002 and 2005 (SMEX02 and SMEX05) in the Walnut Creek (WC) watershed, Iowa. Results show that in both the regions soil properties (i.e., percent silt, percent sand, and soil texture) and topography (elevation and slope) are significant physical controls jointly affecting the spatiotemporal evolution and time stability of soil moisture at both point and footprint scales. In Iowa, using point‐scale soil moisture measurements, the WC11 field was found to be more time stable (TS) than the WC12 field. The common TS points using data across the 3 year period (2002–2005) were mostly located at moderate to high elevations in both the fields. Furthermore, the soil texture at these locations consists of either loam or clay loam soil. Drainage features and cropping practices also affected the field‐scale soil moisture variability in the WC fields. In Oklahoma, the field having a flat topography (LW21) showed the worst TS features compared to the fields having gently rolling topography (LW03 and LW13). The LW13 field (silt loam) exhibited better time stability than the LW03 field (sandy loam) and the LW21 field (silt loam). At the RS footprint scale, in Iowa, the analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests show that the percent clay and percent sand are better able to discern the TS features of the footprints compared to the soil texture. The best soil indicator of soil moisture time stability is the loam soil texture. Furthermore, the hilltops (slope ∼0%–0.45%) exhibited the best TS characteristics in Iowa. On the other hand, in Oklahoma, ANOVA results show that the footprints with sandy loam and loam soil texture are better indicators of the time stability phenomena. In terms of the hillslope position, footprints with mild slope (0.93%–1.85%) are the best indicators of TS footprints. Also, at both point and footprint scales in both the regions, land use–land cover type does not influence soil moisture time stability.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Water Resources Research


American Geophysical Union (AGU)

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Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.


This is an article published by AGU in Water Resources Research in 2011, available online: