The spatiotemporal distribution characteristics of soil temperature are a significant, but seldom described signal of climate warming. This study examines the spatiotemporal trends in soil temperature at depths of 10, 20, and 50 cm in the conterminous US during 1948–2008. We find a warming trend of between 0.2 and 0.4 °C at all depths from 1948 to 2008. The lowest soil temperatures are in Colorado and the area where Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana meet. The coastal areas, such as Texas, Florida, and California, experienced the highest soil temperature. In addition, areas that experienced weak cooling in summer soil temperature include Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Warming was recorded in Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. In winter, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia show a cooling trend, and Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have been warming over the 61-year period. Additionally, mix-forest areas experience slightly cooler soil temperature in comparison with air temperature. Shrubland areas experience slightly warmer soil temperature in comparison with air temperature. This study is among the first to analyze the spatiotemporal distribution characteristics of soil temperature in the conterminous US by using multiple site observational data. Improved understanding of the spatially complex responses of soil temperature shall have significant implications for future studies in climate change over the region.
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