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Analyzing the dynamic hydrologic conditions of the Sandhills is critical for water and range management, sustainability of the Sandhills ecosystem as well as for dune stability. There are complex models available to quantify both surface and subsurface hydrological processes. However, we present in this study an application of a relatively simple model to arrive at best estimates of the water balance components. Using the Thornthwaite-Mather (TM) model, water balance components were estimated for 4 Automated Weather Data Network (AWDN) weather monitoring stations. Estimated averages of the water balance components suggested that mean annual precipitation of these four sites was only about 420 mm but water loss through plant evapotranspiration (ET) was 861 mm, with PET of about 1214 mm. Our investigation shows that there was surplus of water between December and March and a deficit occurs at the start of the growing season in May and extends through senescence in September-October. This study also suggests that the High Plains aquifer possibly met the plant water requirement during this deficit period as well as during the soil water extraction period, from May through September.

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This document was originally published by American Society of Civil Engineers in Journal of Hydrologic Engineering. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0000157