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Predicting Daily Mean Soil Temperature from Daily Mean Air Temperature in Four Northern Hardwood Forest Stands

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Soil temperature is very important in regulating ecosystem processes, yet it is often difficult and costly to measure. Most models that have endeavored to predict soil temperature have either a long time step or several complicated independent variables. Daily mean air and soil temperatures were measured from 1989-1997 in four northern hardwood sites along a 500 km latitudinal gradient in Michigan. These data were used to derive a simple method to predict daily mean soil temperature (depth of 15 cm) using the daily mean air temperature from the previous day and a cosine function of Julian date (R² = 0.93-0.96; SEM = 0.98-1.40°C). Predicted values were compared with actual recorded soil temperatures from 1997 at each of the sites, and the average difference between the observed and predicted values ranged from 0.11 to 0.39°C. Different coefficients were estimated for each of the sites; however, this general method of predicting soil temperature appears applicable to any site. Once calibrated for a given site, soil temperature may be simply estimated, thus reducing the need for extended monitoring efforts. This method also allows the reconstruction of soil temperature records beyond the monitoring period. Projecting long-term trends in soil temperature may help to further elucidate several ecosystem processes and also may provide more information on how a changing global climate will impact forest ecosystems. For. Sci. 46(2):297-301.
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Keywords: Climate; ecosystem monitoring; sugar maple

Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: 2000-05-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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