Soil organic matter, comprising ~58% soil organic carbon (SOC), is attributed with increased water holding capacity in the surface horizon of agricultural soil. This paper addresses the role of SOC as a component of a common functional unit in soil from analysis within a single field and over multiple fields. Soil data measured on the fields during the SMAPVEX12 satellite prelaunch algorithm development campaign exhibited high correlation among SOC, field-mean soil water content (SWC), bulk density, and soil texture. The analysis extended over a wide range of soil texture and wetness in the top 5 cm of soil over 50 agricultural fields covering ~400 km2 of southern Manitoba. Data collected over a much smaller area from Ontario silt loam soils at the Elora Research Centre demonstrated a similar correlation between SOC and SWC in intensive field sampling. This intercorrelation of SOC and SWC is examined with partial least-squares regression, principal component analysis, and geostatistical semivariograms. A model is proposed to interpret the feedback process between SOC and SWC to explain the persistent correlation. Further work to substantiate the strengths and limits of the relationship between SOC and SWC may be beneficial for estimating SWC for remote sensing, agriculture, hydrology, and ecosystem function.
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Vol. 96 • No. 3