• Variability of near-surface soil temperature on sagebrush rangeland

      Pierson, F. B.; Wight, J. R. (Society for Range Management, 1991-09-01)
      Models used to simulate plant growth and insect development on rangelands often assume that soil temperature is homogeneous over the entire area of interest. This simplifying assumption is made because few data are available on the magnitude and structure of the spatial variability of soil temperature within rangeland communities. The influence of sagebrush on the spatial variability and diurnal fluctuations of near-surface soil temperature was examined within a sagebrush-grass plant community. Hourly soil temperatures were measured at 1-, 5-, and 10-cm depths at 30-cm intervals along a 12.3-m north-south transect over a 6-day period in March, 1989. Both classical and geostatistical techniques were used to quantify and model the magnitude and structure of the spatial and temporal variability. Maximum soil temperatures at the 1-cm depth varied from 7 to 23 degrees C under sagebrush and bare interspace, respectively. Periodic spatial patterns in soil temperature were found for all measured depths with a wavelength of periodicity approximately equal to the separation distance between sagebrush plants along the transect. Diurnal variability in near surface soil temperature was much greater in interspace areas compared to under sagebrush plants. The amplitude of diurnal variability in soil temperature at the 1-cm depth under sagebrush was similar to the amplitude of the diurnal variability at the 10-cm depth within the interspaces.