Spatial variations in Southern Italy vegetation production were analyzed between 1995 and 2005. The analysis
was carried out using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series derived from NOAA AVHRR
images, retrieved from DLR/EOWEB archives and corrected using an ad-hoc method. The correction method
exploits more accurate MODIS NDVI maps which only became available on NASA archives in the last three years.
The changes occurred is "biomass production" in the last decade were analyzed by only considering vegetation
behaviour during the growing seasons. This approach improves the results by excluding from the analysis the
winter months, during which vegetation exhibits a stationary behaviour, NDVI data are less significant and the
biomass production is poor.
The correlation between vegetation relative change patterns and terrain altitude, as derived from SRTM
topographic data, was also investigated. This analysis shows the presence of different changing patterns such as:
i) a vegetation production degradation in several areas with variations up to -1% ; ii) a systematic vegetation
production increase over the Apennines up to 6% . These results, in agreement with temperature trends for
the winter months in the last years highlight climate change processes occurring in the Mediterranean areas:
temperature mitigation facilitates "robust" vegetation, like conifer stands, deciduous stands and in general
Mediterranean maquis, i.e, the kind of vegetation which can be found in upland and mountain zones. On the
contrary, particularly in the plains, plant foliation in the autumn-winter period is strongly affected by sudden
low temperature peaks and by human activities.
Seasonal and interannual vegetation trends in the last eleven years were analyzed for two macro-regions, South Italy and North Africa, in search for evidence of climate changes and associated desertification processes. The South Italy macro-region comprises Apulia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily regions, while the North Africa one covers the northern part of Lybia. Vegetation index data for the whole Europe and North Africa can be retrieved from the DLR archive of thematic maps in the form of monthly composite Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) maps. The DLR archive dates back to 1995, thus the analysis could only be carried out for the last eleven years. The analysis of temporal vegetation variations was performed by implementing specific routines which provide objective measurements of vegetation trends and anomaly. Rainfall data for the same periods and geographic areas, were also analyzed in order to investigate the correlation between the two phenomena. Results for the two selected macro-regions, from 1995 to 2006, are presented and discussed. In a successive phase, this study will focus on distinguishing vegetation variations at regional level, in order to compare different local trends.