High sensitivity of gross primary production in the Rocky Mountains to summer rain

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

In the catchments of the Rocky Mountains, peak snowpack is declining in response to warmer spring temperatures. To understand how this will influence terrestrial gross primary production (GPP), we compared precipitation data across the intermountain west with satellite retrievals of solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), a proxy for GPP. Annual precipitation patterns explained most of the spatial and temporal variability of SIF, but the slope of the response was dependent on site to site differences in the proportion of snowpack to summer rain. We separated the response of SIF to different seasonal precipitation amounts and found that SIF was approximately twice as sensitive to variations in summer rain than snowpack. The response of peak GPP to a secular decline in snowpack will likely be subtle, whereas a change in summer rain amount will have precipitous effects on GPP. The study suggests that the rain use efficiency of Rocky Mountain ecosystems is strongly dependent on precipitation form and timing.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title High sensitivity of gross primary production in the Rocky Mountains to summer rain
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2016GL072495
Volume 44
Issue 8
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 3643
Last page 3652
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