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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-442
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-442
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 28 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 28 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Large-scale biospheric drought response intensifies linearly with drought duration

René Orth1, Georgia Destouni2, Martin Jung1, and Markus Reichstein1 René Orth et al.
  • 1Department of Biogeochemical Integration, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, D-07745 Jena, Germany
  • 2Department of Physical Geography, Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract. Soil moisture droughts have comprehensive implications for terrestrial ecosystems. Here we study accumulated impacts of the strongest observed droughts on vegetation. The results show that drought duration, the time during which surface soil moisture is below seasonal average, is a key diagnostic variable for predicting drought-integrated changes in (i) gross primary productivity, (ii) evapotranspiration, (iii) vegetation greenness, and (iv) crop yields. Drought-integrated anomalies in these vegetation-related variables scale linearly with drought duration with a slope depending on climate. In arid regions, the slope is steep such that vegetation drought response intensifies with drought duration, whereas in humid regions, it is small such that drought impacts on vegetation are weak even for long droughts. These emergent large-scale linearities are not well captured by state- of-the-art hydrological, land surface and vegetation models. Overall, the linear relationship of drought duration versus vegetation response and crop yield reductions can serve as model benchmark, and support drought impact interpretation and prediction.

René Orth et al.
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Status: open (until 09 Jan 2020)
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Short summary
Drought duration is key control of large-scale biospheric drought response. Thereby, the biosphere responds linearly to drought duration at large spatial scales. The slope of linear relationship between biospheric drought response and drought duration is steeper in drier climate.
Drought duration is key control of large-scale biospheric drought response. Thereby, the...
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