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Project: UTURN- Understanding Turning Points in Dryland Ecosystem Functioning

2016-12-01 – 2018-10-31


UTURN aims at quantifying and understanding turning points in the functioning of dryland ecosystems. Major focus will be put on disentangling climatic and anthropogenic drivers and the assessment of proxies for early warning of turning points in ecosystem functioning (EF). This implies an enhanced understanding of the coupled human-environmental impact on dryland vegetation dynamics and EF. By focusing our analysis on turning points in EF, we aim at targeting those areas where vegetation stability has been disrupted, hence enabling a more comprehensive analysis of (i) early warning signals such as the characteristics of drivers and vegetation response to disturbances prior to a turning point in EF and (ii) the driving mechanisms (climatic and anthropogenic) for a turning point. This will be achieved by combining advanced EO techniques with DVMs. The DVM will provide process-based insights in spatio-temporal vegetation patterns observed by satellites in drylands over the past 35 years (1981-2015). Consequently, the combined use of DVM's and EO time series analysis will allow characterizing and quantifying the climatic and anthropogenic factors that resulted in these turning points.