Stevens Hydra Probe Furthers Scientific Research at Alabama A&M
By Keith Bellingham
For more than a decade now, the Stevens Hydra Probe has been an important data collection instrument used in The Soil Climate Analyses Network (SCAN). The SCAN Program helps scientists study soil moisture and temperature variability at different time scales and under different land uses and land covers.
Studies that involve the SCAN program benefit the environmental science community as well as farmers, students of all ages, and emergency management officials forecasting floods.
Sophisticated mathematical model can be constructed that relate soil moisture to climate and weather patterns by examining energy partitioning. Energy partitioning is a term used to describe the movement and transfer of energy of environmental processes.
One such Scientist that has used SCAN data is Dr. Teferi Tsegaye at Alabama A&M. He has been involved with the SMEX 03 program which uses the SCAN soil moisture data in conjunction with the Alabama Mesonet to help characterize microwave reflection bands gathered from NASA satellites.
Dr. Tsegaye has studied the variability of soil moisture and temperature after rain events and related these variations to land use, vegetation cover, and soil texture. One such observation that Dr. Tseguye noted is that in his study area, soil rich in clay showed a greater delay diurnal in heating and cooling than those soil composed of sand under the same land cover.
These differences are related to the soil texture and the hydrological properties of the soil. These kinds of observation are relevant to satellite ground truthing and perfecting interpretation methods of microwave remote sensing data.
Flood and drought forecasting is another important role the SCAN program serves. Alabama A&M University and Oregon State University are currently funded by USDA-NRCS to develop new flood and drought forecasting tools using data collected by the SCAN met stations. The flood forecasting tools will eventually lead to more SCAN site installations that will benefit farmers and municipalities.
Keith Bellingham is a full time soil scientist & geochemist at Stevens Water Monitoring Systems.