Italy Drought 2022

Supporting a more accurate assessment of the impact of ongoing droughts and identification of vulnerable areas.

In a nutshell

  • The complex nature of droughts, as well as the difficulties in quantifying their impact and the limited access to reliable data, restrain the accurate drought risk assessment and pose obstacles to formulating effective mitigation measures.
  • As demonstrated by this use case, the advanced capabilities of the DEDL services can help to analyse the impact of droughts and identify potential areas at risk.
  • As a result, this enables a more accurate understanding and mitigation of the drought consequences on communities, ecosystems and economies.

Technical Overview

Disaster assessmentDroughtRisk management
Destination Earth Data Lake
Climate adaptationDisaster responseExtreme Weather Events
EODC GmbH TU Wien, Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation


Drought impact assessment pose significant challenges due to the complex and multifaceted nature of drought events. One primary challenge lies in accurately quantifying the diverse impacts of drought on different sectors, such as agriculture, water supply, and ecosystems. Droughts can manifest in varying forms, including meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural droughts, each affecting different aspects of communities and environments. Developing comprehensive methodologies to assess the cascading effects of drought on various sectors and understanding their interconnectedness is crucial for effective impact assessment. Additionally, predicting the long-term consequences of drought, such as economic losses, social disruption, and environmental degradation, presents a formidable challenge, as these impacts often unfold over an extended period, requiring sophisticated modeling and analysis.

Vulnerability assessment in the context of drought is complicated by the dynamic interplay of environmental, social, and economic factors. Identifying and quantifying the vulnerability of different communities to drought involves understanding local conditions, socioeconomic disparities, and adaptive capacity. Limited access to reliable data, particularly in vulnerable regions, further complicates vulnerability assessments. Moreover, the inherent uncertainty in climate projections adds another layer of difficulty in anticipating future drought scenarios. Integrating these diverse factors into a comprehensive vulnerability assessment framework requires interdisciplinary collaboration, data-sharing mechanisms, and the development of adaptive strategies that can evolve with changing conditions. Overcoming these challenges is essential for implementing effective drought mitigation and adaptation measures at both local and global scales.

DestinE Solution

The Destination Earth Data Lake (DEDL) combines various data sources in one large virtual database. Moreover, the DEDL comes with a set of tools that facilitates the search for relevant resources as well as the analysis of data by performing computationally expensive operations close to the data source. The impact of an ongoing drought is analyzed and potential areas vulnerable to droughts in future will be identified in the following use case. The use case serves as an example of how the DEDL services can help to design water management plans to prepare Italian socio-economic systems for prolonged periods of droughts. These conditions will become more prevalent under globally increasing temperatures.

In this use case, data is retrieved from the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) Data Store, the Copernicus Land Monitoring service (CLMS), and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

  • The EUMETSAT Data Store enables access to soil moisture data as part of the Operational Hydrology and water management (HSAF) unit. The data consists of microwave images obtained by the Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) on board of the METOP satellites. Microwave imaging is a technique that is relatively unaffected by cloud cover and is especially sensitive to variations in near surface water content (0−2cm). This dataset is used to evaluate drought severeness at the beginning of March 2022.
  • The 4DMED Project aims to develop high resolution daily Earth Observations data sets targeting multiple aspects of the Mediterranean terrestrial water cycle. For this case study we will use the EU’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite microwave imaging data (ESA Digital Twin Earth Hydrology precursor activity). Microwave imaging is a technique that is relatively unaffected by cloud cover and is especially sensitive to variations in near surface water content. This dataset is used to evaluate drought severeness at the end of March 2022.
  • The CLMS is queried for the CORINE (‘Coordination of information on the environment’) Land Cover inventory. The original purpose of this data set serves environmental policy development and consists of 44 classes of land cover in five main units (artificial, agriculture, forests and semi-natural, wetlands, and water). It combines a number of sources, among which Landsat-5, Landsat-7, and ESA Sentinal-2 satellite imaging data in the most recent years. This dataset will highlight which sectors will be most likely drought impacted under the predicted scenario.
  • The ECMWF catalogue is used to obtain the multi-decadal ERA5-Land dataset. This product is a reanalysis dataset that gives insight in the seasonal variation of land variables by averaging data over multiple decades with a 9 km spatial resolution. The ERA5-Land data is retrieved to estimate the development of drought over the months following the 30th of March 2022. This dataset is for demonstration purposes only, and will be replaced with a high resolution soil moisture prediction dataset in the future.


Drought assessment is crucial to understand and mitigate the multifaceted impacts of prolonged water scarcity on communities, ecosystems, and economies. By systematically evaluating the severity and duration of drought events, stakeholders can gauge the extent of water stress on agriculture, water resources, and vulnerable populations. The impact of drought assessments extends beyond immediate concerns, encompassing long-term consequences such as reduced crop yields, food insecurity, and economic downturns. In addition, effective drought assessments enable the identification of regions and communities most susceptible to water scarcity, allowing for targeted interventions and adaptive measures. Beyond the quantitative measurements, drought assessments contribute to informed decision-making by providing valuable insights into the social, environmental, and economic vulnerabilities that exacerbate the impacts of water scarcity. Ultimately, a comprehensive understanding of the impact of drought assessments is instrumental in developing resilient and sustainable strategies to address the challenges posed by water shortages in various contexts.



TU Wien, Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation