Our Research High-resolution plant water stress monitoring

Principal Investigator

César Terrer

  • Assistant professor
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

César Terrer is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research focuses on some of the central questions in Earth system science and climate change research by employing a holistic view of Earth’s dynamics at a global scale, with a focus on plant-soil interactions. He synthesizes large datasets of field observations and remote-sensing data through meta-analysis, machine-learning, and other statistical approaches to better understand the global functioning of terrestrial ecosystems.


How can satellite images be used to provide a high-resolution drought monitoring system for farmers?

Research Strategy

  • Leverage new generation of remote sensing satellites to test and refine models for plant water stress monitoring
  • Fuse multi-sensor remote sensing observations and eddy covariance flux data to produce plant drought stress assessments in high temporal and spatial resolution

Project description

Drought is recognized as one of the world’s most pressing and costly natural hazards, with direct impacts on vegetation that threaten water resources and food production globally. However, assessing and monitoring the impact of droughts on vegetation is extremely challenging as plants vary across species and ecosystems in their sensitivity to water deficits. In recent years, new remote sensing satellites have begun to collect data at a high spatial and temporal resolution, capable of capturing plant drought information at intra-field level. 

This project leverages a new generation of remote sensing observations to provide high-resolution plant water stress at regional to global scales. The aim is to provide a plant drought monitoring product with farmland-specific services for water and socioeconomic management. This project also aims to provide the first quantitative and comprehensive evaluation of the spatiotemporal dynamics of vegetation drought response under climate change. The accurate and timely global drought detection and drought impact maps from this project are expected to assist land and water resource managers in drought mitigation planning. The project will also enhance our understanding of global carbon-water-energy cycle responses to drought.

Additional Details

Impact Areas

  • Water
  • Food
  • Climate & Sustainability

Research Themes

  • Sensors & Monitoring
  • Sustainability & Adaptation
  • Modeling & Data Analytics

Year Funded

  • 2022

Grant Type

  • Seed Grant


  • Ongoing