This work reports a first attempt to use Landsat satellite imagery to identify possible urban microclimate changes in a city center after a seismic event that affected L’Aquila City (Abruzzo Region, Italy), on 6 April 2009. After the main seismic event, the collapse of part of the buildings, and the damaging of most of them, with the consequence of an almost total depopulation of the historic city center, may have caused alterations to the microclimate. This work develops an inexpensive work flow—using Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) scenes—to construct the evolution of urban land use after the catastrophic main seismic event that hit L’Aquila. We hypothesized, that, possibly, before the event, the temperature was higher in the city center due to the presence of inhabitants (and thus home heating); while the opposite case occurred in the surrounding areas, where new settlements of inhabitants grew over a period of a few months. We decided not to look to independent meteorological data in order to avoid being biased in their investigations; thus, only the smallest dataset of Landsat ETM+ scenes were considered as input data in order to describe the thermal evolution of the land surface after the earthquake. We managed to use the Landsat archive images to provide thermal change indications, useful for understanding the urban changes induced by catastrophic events, setting up an easy to implement, robust, reproducible, and fast procedure.
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