Relationship between Climatic Conditions and Soil Properties at SCAN and SNOTEL Sites in Utah

TitleRelationship between Climatic Conditions and Soil Properties at SCAN and SNOTEL Sites in Utah
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2010
AuthorsVaughn, K., and Julander Randall P.
Conference Name78th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 78th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 2010
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationLogan, UT
KeywordsSoil, climate, snow water deficit, soil temperature, soil moisture, Utah

To improve our understanding of the influence of climatic conditions on soil properties, long-term in-situ monitoring is essential. The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service's National Water and Climate Center has established a nationwide network of climate monitoring stations known as the Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) and Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) Network. Both SCAN and SNOTEL provide real-time soil moisture and temperature data coupled with additional climate information for use in natural resource planning, drought assessment, water resource management, and resource inventory. Above and below ground climatic conditions are well documented in Utah with 35 SCAN and 97 SNOTEL stations. Research at high elevation sites (>2500 m) reveals that snow water equivalent and snow depth have profound effects on soil temperature patterns. Along an elevational gradient in the Uintah Mountains in northeastern Utah, soil temperature is not proportional to air temperature under snowpack due to differences in snow accumulation. Additional research at middle elevation sites (2000 m) explains how vegetation communities are impacted by differences in edaphic properties across short distances. Data collected at SCAN and SNOTEL stations are used primarily to forecast water supply in the west, improve irrigation efficiency, and indicate the presence of drought conditions, however, the collection of climatic data, such as these, is integral to managing the agricultural and environmental needs we face now and into the future.