Soil temperature is a necessary component for estimating below-ground processes for continental and global carbon budgets; however, there are an insufficient number of climatic stations monitoring soil temperature. We used an 11-day running average of daily mean air temperature to estimate daily mean soil temperature at a depth of 10 cm using linear regression. This model was tested using data from 6 climate regions across the United States. Frequency analyses for 17 of 19 data sets showed that the number of days which were within a +/-3.5 degree C range centered on the measured soil temperature varied from 77 to 96%. The values of R2 between observed and final predicted soil temperatures ranged from 0.85 to 0.96 with standard errors from 1.5 to 2.9 degrees C for all 19 simulations. Changes of soil temperature under snow cover were smaller than those without snow cover. Soil temperature under vegetation cover was also simulated assuming the rate of soil warming under vegetation cover would be reduced with increasing leaf area index according to the Beer-Lambert Law. Annual soil respiration can be estimated from the predicted soil temperature with reasonable accuracy. Daily soil temperature may be predicted from daily air temperature once regional equations have been established, because weather stations in the United States can be generalized into a few regions and sites within each region may use the same equation.
© 1993 Inter-Research
Zheng, D., Hunt Jr. E. R., and Running S. W. (1993). A daily soil temperature model based on air temperature and precipitation for continental applications. Climate Research, 2: 183-191.