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Albedo-modifying properties of olive trees in Mediterranean climate: ecological, climate change and water savings implications
Many Mediterranean schlerophyllous species have peculiar characteristics of their foliage. For instance native as well as cultivated species belonging to the Olea and Quercus genera have leaves that differ substantially in the optical properties of the upper (adaxial) and lower (abaxial) leaf surfaces. The upper surface is normally darker than the lower surface and this is mainly due to the presence of a dense hairy structure in the abaxial surface which reflects more light in the visible region. Under calm conditions (low wind and turbulence) the upper leaf side is exposed to sun while wind gusts that modify the architecture of the tree canopy often expose the lower leaf surface to incoming direct irradiance. As a consequence, windy conditions lead to an increase in the canopy albedo. Wind-driven changes in the spatial arrangement of the leaves can be responsible for a 0.02 change in albedo. Increased reflectance and, hence, reduced radiation absorbance can cause a detectable decrease in the upward longwave emission of the foliage. The Oleα project intends to further explore wind-albedo interactions in olive trees with multiple objectives:
I. Measure difference in reflectance/transmission of light of abaxial & adaxial leaf surfaces in different Olea europea cultivars and investigate how Δα varies with tree age and the aridity of the sites where olive trees are grown
II. Assess how turbulence quantitatively affects instantaneous α of mature field grown olive trees through changes in leaf orientation and the relative exposure of the two leaf surfaces to direct radiation
III. Explore, by means of modeling (LPJmL model), how changes in Δα are likely reflected by changes in yield and productivity of olive orchards in the Mediterranean region
IV. Parameterize and eventually upscale wind-albedo relationship to propose specific guidelines to maximize climate mitigation potentials achievable by the reduction of the RF of olive trees plantation in the Mediterranean region.
Francesco Miglietta accumulated, during his career (1982-present), relevant scientific experience in weed science, satellite remote sensing applications for agriculture and crop modelling with specific expertise in phenology. In the nineties he developed innovative approaches in impact studies of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations on crops and vegetation and developed the most widespread FACE technologies (Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment). He also started new research in terrestrial carbon-cycle science with reference to mass and energy exchanges between vegetated surfaces and the atmosphere that led to the launch of the first Italian SERA (Small Environmental Research Aircraft). He also recently approached innovative studies on climate change mitigation strategies in the forest and agricultural sectors.
He authored so far 144 papers in JCR scientific journals and edited several scientific books (Web of Science H-Index= 40; Google H-Index=49), being currently ranked at the 74th position among the Top Italian Scientists (Via-Academy) where he occupies the second position among terrestrial plant ecologists.
He has been the coordinator of 6 major EU-Projects (including one for the ESA-Earth Explorer Programme) from 1987 to present and he participated in 21 EU-funded projects. He has also been awarded by several grants from private industries where he developed original technology transfer actions.
He has a long and documented experience in research management of complex structures since he was elected in the National CNR Committees of Agricultural and Information Science &Technology, appointed in several Scientific Committees of Research Institutes and more recently in the Scientific Committee of Agriculture and Food Department of CNR. Since 2010 he's the scientific Director of FoxLab, a joint research Initiative in collaboration between CNR and the Fondazione E.Mach in San Michele a/Adige (TN)