Italy’s drought seen from space
Italy’s drought seen from space.
Satellite data on soil moisture show that soils in southern Tuscany have been drier than normal since December 2016.
"In the first six months of 2017, we saw less than half of average rainfall in central Italy," said Luca Brocca from Italy’s Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection, of the National Research Council (IRPI-CNR).
The dataset has been developed by the Vienna University of Technology and the Dutch company VanderSat B.V. and will soon be made available through the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Soil moisture data are collected by radar from satellites measuring microwaves reflected or emitted by Earth’s surface.
The intensity of the measured signal depends on the amount of water in the soil.
Other satellite-borne sensors can monitor effects of drought, such as the lowering water-levels in lakes.
While this may mean more beach space for holidaymakers, it indicates a depleted supply of water for the Italian capital.
Lake Bracciano’s water level is closely monitored by local authorities but, in remote parts of the world, water levels of other large lakes can also be monitored by satellite radar altimeters, helping governments better manage water resources.
Scientists will continue to use space-based tools to monitor drought conditions across Europe, as well as offer support to authorities dealing with water scarcity.