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Open AccessArticle

Correlation of Field-Measured and Remotely Sensed Plant Water Status as a Tool to Monitor the Risk of Drought-Induced Forest Decline

Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita, Università di Trieste, Via L. Giorgieri 10, 34127 Trieste, Italy
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Forests 2020, 11(1), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11010077
Received: 20 November 2019 / Revised: 16 December 2019 / Accepted: 7 January 2020 / Published: 8 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecophysiology and Biology)
Increased frequency of tree mortality and forest decline due to anomalous drought events calls for the adoption of effective monitoring of tree water status over large spatial and temporal scales. We correlated field-measured and remotely sensed plant water status parameters, to test the possibility of monitoring the risk of drought-induced dehydration and hydraulic failure using satellite images calibrated on reliable physiological indicators of tree hydraulics. The study was conducted during summer 2019 in the Karst plateau (NE Italy) in a woodland dominated by Fraxinus ornus L.; Sentinel-2 images were acquired on a seasonal scale on the same dates when absolute water content (AbWC), relative water content (RWC), and minimum water potential (Ψmin) were measured in the field. Plant water status parameters were correlated with normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI and NDVI 8A), normalized difference water index (NDWI), and soil-adjusted vegetation index (SAVI). Significant Pearson and Spearman linear correlations (α < 0.05) emerged between all tree-level measured variables and NDWI, while for NDVI, NDVI 8A, and SAVI no correlation was found. Our results suggest the possibility of using the NDWI as a proxy of tree water content and water potential. View Full-Text
Keywords: Fraxinus ornus; remote sensing; NDVI; NDWI; water stress; karst; water potential; RWC; water content Fraxinus ornus; remote sensing; NDVI; NDWI; water stress; karst; water potential; RWC; water content
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Marusig, D.; Petruzzellis, F.; Tomasella, M.; Napolitano, R.; Altobelli, A.; Nardini, A. Correlation of Field-Measured and Remotely Sensed Plant Water Status as a Tool to Monitor the Risk of Drought-Induced Forest Decline. Forests 2020, 11, 77.

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