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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 17, issue 4 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 1589-1606, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 29 Apr 2013

Research article | 29 Apr 2013

McMaster Mesonet soil moisture dataset: description and spatio-temporal variability analysis

K. C. Kornelsen1 and P. Coulibaly1,2 K. C. Kornelsen and P. Coulibaly
  • 1School of Geography and Earth Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

Abstract. This paper introduces and describes the hourly, high-resolution soil moisture dataset continuously recorded by the McMaster Mesonet located in the Hamilton-Halton Watershed in Southern Ontario, Canada. The McMaster Mesonet consists of a network of time domain reflectometer (TDR) probes collecting hourly soil moisture data at six depths between 10 cm and 100 cm at nine locations per site, spread across four sites in the 1250 km2 watershed. The sites for the soil moisture arrays are designed to further improve understanding of soil moisture dynamics in a seasonal climate and to capture soil moisture transitions in areas that have different topography, soil and land cover. The McMaster Mesonet soil moisture constitutes a unique database in Canada because of its high spatio-temporal resolution. In order to provide some insight into the dominant processes at the McMaster Mesonet sites, a spatio-temporal and temporal stability analysis were conducted to identify spatio-temporal patterns in the data and to suggest some physical interpretation of soil moisture variability. It was found that the seasonal climate of the Great Lakes Basin causes a transition in soil moisture patterns at seasonal timescales. During winter and early spring months, and at the meadow sites, soil moisture distribution is governed by topographic redistribution, whereas following efflorescence in the spring and summer, soil moisture spatial distribution at the forested site was also controlled by vegetation canopy. Analysis of short-term temporal stability revealed that the relative difference between sites was maintained unless there was significant rainfall (> 20 mm) or wet conditions a priori. Following a disturbance in the spatial soil moisture distribution due to wetting, the relative soil moisture pattern re-emerged in 18 to 24 h. Access to the McMaster Mesonet data can be provided by visiting

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