Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Soil-climate estimates in the western United States: climate averages (1981-2010)

October 28, 2022

We provide a collection of data reflecting estimates of soil-climate properties (moisture, temperature, and regimes) based on climate normals (1981-2010). Specifically, we provide estimates for soil moisture (monthly, seasonal, and annual), trends of spring and growing season soil moisture (Theil-Sen estimates), soil temperature and moisture regimes (STMRs; discrete classes defined by United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] Natural Resources Conservation Service [NRCS]), seasonal Thornthwaite moisture index (TMI; precipitation minus PET), and seasonality of TMI and soil moisture (30-meter rasters). Moisture values were estimated using our spatial implementation of the Newhall simulation model that relies on the Thornthwaite-Matter-Sellers potential evapotranspiration (PET) index. Among many enhancements, our application is the first known soil-climate model to include the effects of snow (for example, sublimation, snowmelt, attenuated evaporation, and insulation from air temperatures). Notably, we developed procedures that facilitate data substitution using spatial_nsm, supporting many use cases and flexibility, such as assessing projected climate scenarios. Our results provide evidence of the utility of spatially explicit soil-climate products, which could support subsequent use for modeling and managing ecosystem, habitat, and species distributions. For example, we demonstrated soil-climate properties had significant correlations with vegetation patterns: soil moisture variables predicted sagebrush (R^2 = 0.51), annual herbaceous plant cover (R^2 = 0.687), exposed soil (R^2 = 0.656), and fire occurrence (R^2 = 0.343). These statistical results suggested the data captured distributions of soil moisture and STMRs that can explain landscape and vegetation patterns.

Refer to the Cross Reference section for all citations referenced in metadata supporting methods. This section also references our software used for developing these data products (nsm_spatial).

Refer to the Larger Citation describing this project in full. Normal (1981 – 2010): Describes climate conditions averaged (temperature) or summed (precipitation) across 30-year climate period.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Soil-climate estimates in the western United States: climate averages (1981-2010)
DOI 10.5066/P9ULGC03
Authors Michael S O'Donnell, Daniel J Manier
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center