Climate change reduces extent of temperate drylands and intensifies drought in deep soils

Nature Communications
By: , and 

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Abstract

Drylands cover 40% of the global terrestrial surface and provide important ecosystem services. While drylands as a whole are expected to increase in extent and aridity in coming decades, temperature and precipitation forecasts vary by latitude and geographic region suggesting different trajectories for tropical, subtropical, and temperate drylands. Uncertainty in the future of tropical and subtropical drylands is well constrained, whereas soil moisture and ecological droughts, which drive vegetation productivity and composition, remain poorly understood in temperate drylands. Here we show that, over the twenty first century, temperate drylands may contract by a third, primarily converting to subtropical drylands, and that deep soil layers could be increasingly dry during the growing season. These changes imply major shifts in vegetation and ecosystem service delivery. Our results illustrate the importance of appropriate drought measures and, as a global study that focuses on temperate drylands, highlight a distinct fate for these highly populated areas.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Climate change reduces extent of temperate drylands and intensifies drought in deep soils
Series title Nature Communications
DOI 10.1038/ncomms14196
Issue 8
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Southwest Biological Science Center, John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis
Description Article 14196; 9 p.
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