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Title: Simulated sensitivity of African terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis to rainfall frequency, intensity, and rainy season length

Abstract

There is growing evidence of ongoing changes in the statistics of intra-seasonal rainfall variability over large parts of the world. Changes in annual total rainfall may arise from shifts, either singly or in a combination, of distinctive intra-seasonal characteristics –i.e. rainfall frequency, rainfall intensity, and rainfall seasonality. Understanding how various ecosystems respond to the changes in intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics is critical for predictions of future biome shifts and ecosystem services under climate change, especially for arid and semi-arid ecosystems. Here, we use an advanced dynamic vegetation model (SEIB-DGVM) coupled with a stochastic rainfall/weather simulator to answer the following question: how does the productivity of ecosystems respond to a given percentage change in the total seasonal rainfall that is realized by varying only one of the three rainfall characteristics (rainfall frequency, intensity, and rainy season length)? We conducted ensemble simulations for continental Africa for a realistic range of changes (-20% ~+20%) in total rainfall amount. We find that the simulated ecosystem productivity (measured by gross primary production, GPP) shows distinctive responses to the intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics. Specifically, increase in rainfall frequency can lead to 28% more GPP increase than the same percentage increase in rainfall intensity; in tropical woodlands, GPP sensitivitymore » to changes in rainy season length is ~4 times larger than to the same percentage changes in rainfall frequency or intensity. In contrast, shifts in the simulated biome distribution are much less sensitive to intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics than they are to total rainfall amount. Our results reveal three major distinctive productivity responses to seasonal rainfall variability—‘chronic water stress’, ‘acute water stress’ and ‘minimum water stress’ -which are respectively associated with three broad spatial patterns of African ecosystem physiognomy, i.e. savannas, woodlands, and tropical forests.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1421294
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1509880
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0014363; EAR-0847368
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Environmental Research Letters Journal Volume: 13 Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
Publisher:
IOP Publishing
Country of Publication:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Africa; water stress; rainfall frequency; rainfall intensity; rainy season length; dynamic vegetation modeling

Citation Formats

Guan, Kaiyu, Good, Stephen P., Caylor, Kelly K., Medvigy, David, Pan, Ming, Wood, Eric F., Sato, Hisashi, Biasutti, Michela, Chen, Min, Ahlström, Anders, and Xu, Xiangtao. Simulated sensitivity of African terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis to rainfall frequency, intensity, and rainy season length. United Kingdom: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa9f30.
Guan, Kaiyu, Good, Stephen P., Caylor, Kelly K., Medvigy, David, Pan, Ming, Wood, Eric F., Sato, Hisashi, Biasutti, Michela, Chen, Min, Ahlström, Anders, & Xu, Xiangtao. Simulated sensitivity of African terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis to rainfall frequency, intensity, and rainy season length. United Kingdom. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa9f30.
Guan, Kaiyu, Good, Stephen P., Caylor, Kelly K., Medvigy, David, Pan, Ming, Wood, Eric F., Sato, Hisashi, Biasutti, Michela, Chen, Min, Ahlström, Anders, and Xu, Xiangtao. Thu . "Simulated sensitivity of African terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis to rainfall frequency, intensity, and rainy season length". United Kingdom. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa9f30.
@article{osti_1421294,
title = {Simulated sensitivity of African terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis to rainfall frequency, intensity, and rainy season length},
author = {Guan, Kaiyu and Good, Stephen P. and Caylor, Kelly K. and Medvigy, David and Pan, Ming and Wood, Eric F. and Sato, Hisashi and Biasutti, Michela and Chen, Min and Ahlström, Anders and Xu, Xiangtao},
abstractNote = {There is growing evidence of ongoing changes in the statistics of intra-seasonal rainfall variability over large parts of the world. Changes in annual total rainfall may arise from shifts, either singly or in a combination, of distinctive intra-seasonal characteristics –i.e. rainfall frequency, rainfall intensity, and rainfall seasonality. Understanding how various ecosystems respond to the changes in intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics is critical for predictions of future biome shifts and ecosystem services under climate change, especially for arid and semi-arid ecosystems. Here, we use an advanced dynamic vegetation model (SEIB-DGVM) coupled with a stochastic rainfall/weather simulator to answer the following question: how does the productivity of ecosystems respond to a given percentage change in the total seasonal rainfall that is realized by varying only one of the three rainfall characteristics (rainfall frequency, intensity, and rainy season length)? We conducted ensemble simulations for continental Africa for a realistic range of changes (-20% ~+20%) in total rainfall amount. We find that the simulated ecosystem productivity (measured by gross primary production, GPP) shows distinctive responses to the intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics. Specifically, increase in rainfall frequency can lead to 28% more GPP increase than the same percentage increase in rainfall intensity; in tropical woodlands, GPP sensitivity to changes in rainy season length is ~4 times larger than to the same percentage changes in rainfall frequency or intensity. In contrast, shifts in the simulated biome distribution are much less sensitive to intra-seasonal rainfall characteristics than they are to total rainfall amount. Our results reveal three major distinctive productivity responses to seasonal rainfall variability—‘chronic water stress’, ‘acute water stress’ and ‘minimum water stress’ -which are respectively associated with three broad spatial patterns of African ecosystem physiognomy, i.e. savannas, woodlands, and tropical forests.},
doi = {10.1088/1748-9326/aa9f30},
journal = {Environmental Research Letters},
number = 2,
volume = 13,
place = {United Kingdom},
year = {2018},
month = {2}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa9f30

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Cited by: 3 works
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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Simulated sensitivity of African terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis to rainfall frequency, intensity, and rainy season length
    text, January 2018

    • Guan, Kaiyu; Good, Stephen P.; Caylor, Kelly K.
    • Columbia University
    • DOI: 10.7916/d8pg38mk