Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Jerald A. Tunheim


Since the atmosphere attenuates the radiation emitted by the earth, the actual surface temperature is difficult to measure accurately from satellite heights. However, the temperature difference between two locations on the earth can be measured to a better approximation if the atmosphere attenuates the radiation equally over both surfaces. Thus, the temperature difference between two locations is more accessible than the actual surface temperature of each surface. If surface temperature difference does correlate to soil moisture difference, then relative moisture content can be calculated. Consequently, if a reference moisture is available for one location, the moisture content of the soil at the other location can be obtained. The difference in surface temperature may depend on many variables other than soil moisture. Soil type, climatic conditions, plant canopies, topography and other variables can alter the surface temperatures. By controlling these variables for two soil plots and varying soil moisture, a-correlation between moisture difference and surface temperature difference can be investigated and analyzed. A finite difference heat flow model has been developed which will predict soil temperatures as a function of time throughout the soil profile from the surface to a depth of 50 cm. Experimental tests of this model have shown it to qualitatively agree with field conditions indicating that its equations reasonably simulate actual physical processes that occur in the soil. Many parameters associated with soil and solar radiation as well as plant canopy characteristics have been incorporated into the model. A series of calculations utilizing the model have predicted a quadratic relationship between soil moisture difference and surface temperature difference. The primary goal of this research is to explore the experimental relationship between these variables utilizing soil plots of differing soil moisture profiles and comparing the results with model predictions.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Soil moisture -- Measurement
Soil temperature



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State