Widespread and complex drought effects on vegetation physiology inferred from space

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review

Contributors

  • Wantong Li - , Junior Professorship in Environmental Remote Sensing, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Author)
  • Javier Pacheco-Labrador - , Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Author)
  • Mirco Migliavacca - , European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute (Author)
  • Diego Miralles - , Ghent University (Author)
  • Anne Hoek van Dijke - , Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Author)
  • Markus Reichstein - , Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle—Jena—Leipzig (Author)
  • Matthias Forkel - , Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Junior Professorship in Environmental Remote Sensing, Dresden University of Technology (Author)
  • Weijie Zhang - , Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Author)
  • Christian Frankenberg - , California Institute of Technology (Author)
  • Annu Panwar - , Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Author)
  • Qian Zhang - , Nanjing Tech University (Author)
  • Ulrich Weber - , Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Author)
  • Pierre Gentine - , Columbia University (Author)
  • Rene Orth - , Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Author)

Abstract

The response of vegetation physiology to drought at large spatial scales is poorly understood due to a lack of direct observations. Here, we study vegetation drought responses related to photosynthesis, evaporation, and vegetation water content using remotely sensed data, and we isolate physiological responses using a machine learning technique. We find that vegetation functional decreases are largely driven by the downregulation of vegetation physiology such as stomatal conductance and light use efficiency, with the strongest downregulation in water-limited regions. Vegetation physiological decreases in wet regions also result in a discrepancy between functional and structural changes under severe drought. We find similar patterns of physiological drought response using simulations from a soil–plant–atmosphere continuum model coupled with a radiative transfer model. Observation-derived vegetation physiological responses to drought across space are mainly controlled by aridity and additionally modulated by abnormal hydro-meteorological conditions and vegetation types. Hence, isolating and quantifying vegetation physiological responses to drought enables a better understanding of ecosystem biogeochemical and biophysical feedback in modulating climate change.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number4640
JournalNature communications
Volume14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
Peer-reviewedYes

External IDs

PubMed 37582763
ORCID /0000-0003-0363-9697/work/142252110

Keywords

Sustainable Development Goals

Keywords

  • Droughts, Ecosystem, Photosynthesis, Atmosphere/chemistry, Water/chemistry, Climate Change