New Advancements For Monitoring Hydrological Processes And Supporting The Sustainable Management Of Agro-Forest Systems


Modanesi Sara Modanesi

Sara Modanesi

Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection National Research Council CNR (Perugia, Italy)

Massari Christian Massari

Christian Massari

Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection National Research Council CNR (Perugia, Italy)

Facchi Arianna Facchi

Arianna Facchi

Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Production, Landscape, Agroenergy (DiSAA), Università degli Studi di Milano (UNIMI), Italy

Merlone Andrea Merlone

Andrea Merlone

Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica - INRIM (Torino, Italy)

Baroni Gabriele Baroni

Gabriele Baroni

Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy


Agro-forest systems provide a pivotal contribution to environmental sustainability, serving also as a measure for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events. In this context, hydrological monitoring is essential to guide sustainable management practices. An enhanced comprehension of land-atmosphere interactions and water exchanges has a key role in addressing the impacts of both anthropogenic and natural disturbances on the availability and quality of agro-forest systems’ resources and services. This becomes especially critical in an evolving scenario characterised by an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events as the climate changes.

Established and novel techniques employed to monitor hydrological processes in agro-forest systems include ground-based and airborne geophysical methods, remote sensing sensors and methods, ground sensor networks and agro-hydrological and land surface modelling frameworks. Although fundamental, all these methods are still characterised by limitations. For instance, reconciling the temporal-spatial scales of the monitoring techniques with the requirements of decision-support systems is not straightforward. Integrated observation systems, incorporating digital technologies to enhance decision-making and resource management, emerge as the optimal solution.

This session focuses on recent advancements, intercomparisons and integration of methods for monitoring and modelling agricultural and forest systems for multiple applications including drought and flood assessment, watershed protection, erosion assessment, and improvement in irrigation management and planning. Studies can range from field to catchment/regional scale.


Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Innovative use of remote sensing observations (from satellite, airborne, UAV/drone platforms, and proximal sensors);
  • Non-invasive and intermediate soil moisture estimation methods (e.g., gamma-ray spectrometer, cosmic-ray neutron sensing, GNSS, gravimetry, electrical resistivity - tomography - ERT, electro-magnetic induction sensors -EMI, , ground penetrating radar - GPR);
  • Innovative river discharge estimation and flow measurements;
  • Integration of observations and modelling frameworks through data assimilation or calibration techniques;
  • Data fusion of in-situ, proximal and remote sensing data;
  • Digital platforms and interoperability.


Sara Modanesi, received her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with excellence from the University of Florence (Italy) jointly with KU Leuven (Belgium) in June 2022. Since May 2018 she is carrying out research activity at the National Research Council, Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection of Perugia (Italy, CNR-IRPI). She is currently a researcher at CNR-IRPI. Her research interests focus on the exploitation of innovative satellite products to improve the water cycle description, land surface modelling and data assimilation techniques to track the impacts of irrigation on the water cycle and drought monitoring. She is part of 4+ international projects and author/co-author of 15+ peer-reviewed publications in high-impact factor journals.

Christian Massari, is a Senior Scientist at the Research Institute for Geo-hydrological Protection of the National Research Council (CNR) in Italy. He earned his Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering in 2008, followed by a Ph.D. in Hydraulic Engineering from the University of Perugia in 2012. Since 2017, he has been a permanent researcher at CNR-IRPI working in the field of hydrology and eco-hydrology. As the responsible of the Eco-hydrology Laboratory (Eco-hydrology Lab) at the CNR, Massari's research delves into understanding hydrological extremes such as droughts and floods, particularly in the Mediterranean region, and their interactions with the carbon cycle. His work emphasizes the development of innovative techniques for efficient water resource management, spanning local, regional, and global scales. Massari employs cutting-edge methods to leverage Earth Observation data within land surface and eco-hydrological models. He has authored over 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has played principal investigator (PI) and co-investigator (Co-I) roles in over 20 projects funded by national and international calls. Massari was part of the team that received the ESA-Copernicus Excellence Award in 2022. He has also been involved in various professional organizations, including serving on the American Geophysical Union Technical Committee of Precipitation from 2019 to 2022, acting as Secretary of the Italian Hydrological Society since 2023, and becoming a member of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing in 2022. Furthermore, Massari is engaged with the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), contributing to groups focused on drought in the Anthropocene and drought in mountainous regions. He serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Hydrology, reflecting his dedication to advancing the field of hydrology through research and editorial contributions.

Since 2016 Arianna Facchi, is Associated Professor at the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Production, Landscape, Agroenergy (DiSAA) of the Università degli Studi di Milano (UNIMI). Her main research interests concern the planning and the management of water resources for irrigation purposes through the application of agro-hydrological models for the simulation of water fluxes and storages in the soil-plant-atmosphere system at the field, irrigation scheme and river basin scales, and the use of the most advanced monitoring tools (e.g., eddy-covariance stations, ground sensor networks, eco-physiological devices, UAV and satellite data, etc.) for their implementation. She has been involved in several national and European projects on these topics. She is member of the EurAgEng and of the European Geophysical Union, and reviewer for prestigious international scientific journals. The scientific production is documented by more than 100 publications in scientific journals and conference proceedings with international diffusion.

Andrea Merlone, is senior researcher at the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM) and associated researcher at the IRPI and at the ISP of the Italian National Research Council (CNR). He is chairman of Working Groups of the BIPM and Expert Teams in WMO, contributing also to the GCOS and GCW initiatives and groups. Merlone is coordinator of several Joint Research Projects, both at European and National level, on Metrology for Meteorology (MeteoMet) with further responsibilities as work-package leader, in numerous areas of thermal and environmental measurements. His recent activities ranged from the accurate measurements of phase transitions thermodynamics, to the determinations of the Boltzmann’s constant for the new definition of the kelvin, to a new metrological approach for the traceability of meteorological observations and climate studies.

Gabriele Baroni, is Associate professor at the Department of Agricultural and food sciences, University of Bologna (Italy). His research focuses on monitoring and modelling soil-plant-systems at different spatial scales and on integrated plan and management of the water resources. He is the author of several publications and contributions to conferences ranging from field scale experiments to large-scale hydrological modelling. He is currently involved in national and international research projects with particular focus on boosting hydrological monitoring networks with the integration of soil moisture observations for drought monitoring and supporting agricultural water management.