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Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho (Soil Temperature)

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posted on 2024-02-13, 14:01 authored by Mark Seyfried

Long-term soil temperature data were collected at the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW) from 1981-1996 at five locations representing different climatic regimes and soils in the RCEW, ranging in elevation from 1190 to 2101 m. Each site is located in close proximity to a climate station on nearly level slopes. In most sites, there were six or seven measurement depths ranging from 2.5 to 240 cm; in 1990, new sensors were installed at all sites at depths of 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 180 cm. Each soil temperature depth profile is located near at least one neutron access tube and a precipitation gauge, and complete climate station information was collected either at the site or in reasonable proximity. Regular data collection started in 1981 or 1982, depending on the site. The temperature sensors used were YSI (Yellow Springs Instruments, Yellow Springs, Ohio) two-thermistor composite thermolinear components accurate to 0.15C. Data were originally collected in 1981 by connecting a hand-held voltmeter to the sensor leads, and individual sensors at different depths were read using a manual switch. These data were collected once each week, and the time was recorded. At some sites the switches were bypassed and hooked up to data loggers of various design resulting in more frequent (either 1 or 4 hour) recording intervals. Prior to 1990, soil temperature sensors were installed by attaching the sensors to a 0.05 m diameter wooden pole at the desired depth intervals, drilling a hole a with a drill rig (the soils in the RCEW are very rocky), inserting the pole in the drilled hole, and backfilling.

Resources in this dataset:

  • Resource Title: Soil Temperature.

    File Name:

    Resource Description: Data for Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho (Soil Temperature)




Data contact name

Seyfried, Mark

Data contact email


USDA Agricultural Research Service

Intended use

These data allow a variety of analyses of processes related to soil temperature over time in different environments. Of particular interest in this environment is soil freezing because of implications for hydrology. For example, Flerchinger and Hanson [1989] found that the soil heat and water (SHAW) model accurately simulated frost depth at three elevations in the RCEW and found that the cooler, higher-elevation site had the least soil frost. These data also can be used to examine interannual soil temperature variations at a site. The expected seasonal fluctuations are obvious, but less widely appreciated is the high degree of interannual stability in the timing and magnitude of soil temperature.

Use limitations

In many cases the performance of sensors was observed to deteriorate slowly over time. Apparently, water gradually entered the sensors as the potting compound used to seal the sensors slowly deteriorated, thus altering the circuit resistance of the sensors. In some cases, especially prior to 1990, there are significant data gaps due to sensor failure.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


ISO Topic Category

  • environment
  • farming

Ag Data Commons Group

  • Great Basin
  • Long-Term Agroecosystem Research

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

soil temperature; streams; watersheds; climate; neutrons; microprocessors; drilling; backfilling

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 211
  • 215

Primary article PubAg Handle

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Seyfried, Mark (2020). Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho (Soil Temperature). USDA Agricultural Research Service.

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