Global dynamics of Live Fuel Moisture Content

Live Fuel Moisture Content (LFMC) is the relative measure of a plant water content over its dry mass. It can be obtained via in-situ destructive sampling, but, for large scale studies, estimation with remote sensing technology is the only feasible approach. LFMC is a widely employed water content index in fire-related applications, but it could potentially be used also in a range of other purposes connected to vegetation health, wildlife and human activities, as it is a measure of the vegetation water content.

Climate change is impacting all ecosystems around the globe. However, its effect on the vegetation dynamics at global scale is not completely clear yet, as different studies have come to different conclusions. For example, atypical dry years are impacting a larger global area every decade and, in some regions, fire-weather conditions are predicted to increase. However, some researchers have observed a recent global increasing trend of vegetation greenness, and it is believed that fire activity is heavily impacted by humans’ direct actions (e.g. more effective fire suppression, or intentional ignition).

Vegetation dynamics are complicated, and many publications have focused on studying them in order to understand their relationship with the climate variables. Different methods and indices have been used. However, nobody has explored the temporal and spatial dynamics of LFMC at global scale. This novel approach could improve our current knowledge of how vegetation responds to climate variability.