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Drying conditions in Switzerland – indication from a 35-year Landsat time-series analysis of vegetation water content estimates to support SDGs

Ginzler, Christian
Weber, Dominique
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Published in Big Earth Data. 2021
Abstract Exacerbated by climate change, Europe has experienced series of hot and dry summer since the beginning of the 21st century. The importance of land conditions became an international concern with a dedicated sustainable development goal (SDG), the SDG 15. It calls for developing and finding innovative solu- tions to follow and evaluate impacts of changing land condi- tions induced by various driving forces. In Switzerland, drought risk will significantly increase in the coming decades with severe consequences on agriculture, energy production and vegeta- tion. In this paper, we used a 35-year satellite-derived annual and seasonal times-series of normalized difference water index (NDWI) to follow vegetation water content evolution at different spatial and temporal scales across Switzerland and related them to temperature and precipitation to investigate possible responses of changing climatic conditions. Results indicate that there is a small and slow drying tendency at the country scale with a NDWI mean decreasing slope of −0.22%/year for the 23% significant pixels across Switzerland. This tendency is mostly visible below 2000 m above sea level (m.a.s.l.) and in all biogeographical regions. The Southern Alps regions appear to be more responsive to changing drying conditions with a significant and slight negative NDWI trend (−0.39%/year) over the last 35 years. Moreover, NDWI values are mostly a func- tion of temperature at elevations below the tree line rather than precipitation. Findings suggest that multi-annual and seasonal NDWI can be a valuable indicator to monitor vegetation water content at different scales, but other components such as land cover type and evapotranspiration should be considered to better characterize NDWI variability. Satellite Earth Observations data can provide valuable complementary obser- vations for national statistics on the ecological state of vegeta- tion to support SDG 15 to monitor land affected by drying conditions.
Keywords Climate changeVegetationNDWILandsatDroughtSDG 15Land degradationEcosystemsEarth ObservationBig Earth dataSwitzerland
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Research groups Envirospace Lab
Global Resource Information Database (GRID)
ISE Pôle Informatique environnementale
ISE Pôle Sciences
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POUSSIN, Charlotte et al. Drying conditions in Switzerland – indication from a 35-year Landsat time-series analysis of vegetation water content estimates to support SDGs. In: Big Earth Data, 2021. doi: 10.1080/20964471.2021.1974681 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:155108

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Deposited on : 2021-10-04

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