Accelerated dryland expansion regulates future variability in dryland gross primary production

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2020-04-03

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15515-2

Affiliations: 8

Authors: 8

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Research Highlight

Forests retreat as drylands expand

© Nick Brundle Photography/Getty

© Nick Brundle Photography/Getty

Climate change could turn forest into grassland and grassland into desert, reducing global plant productivity as lush landscapes dry out.

Drylands, such as grasslands and savanna, support nearly two fifths of the world’s population and are a major carbon sink. But drylands are expected to expand as a result of climate warming and it is unclear how this expansion will affect plant productivity.

A team that included researchers from Lanzhou University gathered satellite data on vegetation productivity and measured carbon cycling across a range of ecosystems worldwide.

By combining this data with models of future climate change, they predict that global dryland productivity will increase by around 12% by 2100 compared to a decade ago. However, overall vegetation productivity may decline as drylands either transform formerly productive ecosystems or degrade.

Understanding how climate change affects drylands’ ability to absorb carbon and support biodiversity will help guide the conservation of the most productive areas.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 11, 1665 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15515-
Institutions Share
Washington State University (WSU), United States of America (USA) 0.31
Lanzhou University (LZU), China 0.17
Boston University (BU), United States of America (USA) 0.13
Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources (NIEER), CAS, China 0.13
Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, PNNL, United States of America (USA) 0.13
Fudan University, China 0.08
CAS Center for Excellence and Innovation in Tibetan Plateau Earth System Sciences (CEITPES), ITP CAS, China 0.06