The IASI Water Deficit Index to Monitor Vegetation Stress and Early Drying in Summer Heatwaves: An Application to Southern Italy

The boreal hemisphere has been experiencing increasing extreme hot and dry conditions over the past few decades, consistent with anthropogenic climate change. The continental extension of this phenomenon calls for tools and techniques capable of monitoring the global to regional scales. In this context, satellite data can satisfy the need for global coverage. The main objective we have addressed in the present paper is the capability of infrared satellite observations to monitor the vegetation stress due to increasing drought and heatwaves in summer. We have designed and implemented a new water deficit index (wdi) that exploits satellite observations in the infrared to retrieve humidity, air temperature, and surface temperature simultaneously. These three parameters are combined to provide the water deficit index. The index has been developed based on the Infrared Atmospheric Sounder Interferometer or IASI, which covers the infrared spectral range 645 to 2760 cm with a sampling of 0.25 cm. The index has been used to study the 2017 heatwave, which hit continental Europe from May to October. In particular, we have examined southern Italy, where Mediterranean forests suffer from climate change. We have computed the index's time series and show that it can be used to indicate the atmospheric background conditions associated with meteorological drought. We have also found a good agreement with soil moisture, which suggests that the persistence of an anomalously high water deficit index was an essential driver of the rapid development and evolution of the exceptionally severe 2017 droughts.
Autori IAC
Tipo pubblicazione
Altri Autori
Masiello, Guido; Ripullone, Francesco; De Feis, Italia; Rita, Angelo; Saulino, Luigi; Pasquariello, Pamela; Cersosimo, Angela; Venafra, Sara; Serio, Carmine
Molecular Diversity Preservation International
Land (Basel)