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Vegetation anomalies caused by antecedent precipitation in most of the world

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Abstract
Quantifying environmental controls on vegetation is critical to predict the net effect of climate change on global ecosystems and the subsequent feedback on climate. Following a non-linear Granger causality framework based on a random forest predictive model, we exploit the current wealth of multi-decadal satellite data records to uncover the main drivers of monthly vegetation variability at the global scale. Results indicate that water availability is the most dominant factor driving vegetation globally: about 61% of the vegetated surface was primarily water-limited during 1981-2010. This included semiarid climates but also transitional ecoregions. Intraannually, temperature controls Northern Hemisphere deciduous forests during the growing season, while antecedent precipitation largely dominates vegetation dynamics during the senescence period. The uncovered dependency of global vegetation on water availability is substantially larger than previously reported. This is owed to the ability of the framework to (1) disentangle the co-linearities between radiation/temperature and precipitation, and (2) quantify non-linear impacts of climate on vegetation. Our results reveal a prolonged effect of precipitation anomalies in dry regions: due to the long memory of soil moisture and the cumulative, nonlinear, response of vegetation, water-limited regions show sensitivity to the values of precipitation occurring three months earlier. Meanwhile, the impacts of temperature and radiation anomalies are more immediate and dissipate shortly, pointing to a higher resilience of vegetation to these anomalies. Despite being infrequent by definition, hydro-climatic extremes are responsible for up to 10% of the vegetation variability during the 1981-2010 period in certain areas, particularly in water-limited ecosystems. Our approach is a first step towards a quantitative comparison of the resistance and resilience signature of different ecosystems, and can be used to benchmark Earth system models in their representations of past vegetation sensitivity to changes in climate.
Keywords
SOIL-MOISTURE, CLIMATE EXTREMES, CARBON-CYCLE, TROPICAL FORESTS, AMAZON, FORESTS, GROWING-SEASON, DRY-SEASON, NDVI DATA, SATELLITE, TEMPERATURE, global vegetation, Granger causality, hydro-climatic extremes, water, stress, ecosystem resilience

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Chicago
Papagiannopoulou, Christina, Diego Gonzalez Miralles, Wouter A Dorigo, Niko Verhoest, Mathieu Depoorter, and Willem Waegeman. 2017. “Vegetation Anomalies Caused by Antecedent Precipitation in Most of the World.” Environmental Research Letters 12 (7).
APA
Papagiannopoulou, C., Gonzalez Miralles, D., Dorigo, W. A., Verhoest, N., Depoorter, M., & Waegeman, W. (2017). Vegetation anomalies caused by antecedent precipitation in most of the world. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 12(7).
Vancouver
1.
Papagiannopoulou C, Gonzalez Miralles D, Dorigo WA, Verhoest N, Depoorter M, Waegeman W. Vegetation anomalies caused by antecedent precipitation in most of the world. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS. 2017;12(7).
MLA
Papagiannopoulou, Christina et al. “Vegetation Anomalies Caused by Antecedent Precipitation in Most of the World.” ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS 12.7 (2017): n. pag. Print.
@article{8527987,
  abstract     = {Quantifying environmental controls on vegetation is critical to predict the net effect of climate change on global ecosystems and the subsequent feedback on climate. Following a non-linear Granger causality framework based on a random forest predictive model, we exploit the current wealth of multi-decadal satellite data records to uncover the main drivers of monthly vegetation variability at the global scale. Results indicate that water availability is the most dominant factor driving vegetation globally: about 61\% of the vegetated surface was primarily water-limited during 1981-2010. This included semiarid climates but also transitional ecoregions. Intraannually, temperature controls Northern Hemisphere deciduous forests during the growing season, while antecedent precipitation largely dominates vegetation dynamics during the senescence period. The uncovered dependency of global vegetation on water availability is substantially larger than previously reported. This is owed to the ability of the framework to (1) disentangle the co-linearities between radiation/temperature and precipitation, and (2) quantify non-linear impacts of climate on vegetation. Our results reveal a prolonged effect of precipitation anomalies in dry regions: due to the long memory of soil moisture and the cumulative, nonlinear, response of vegetation, water-limited regions show sensitivity to the values of precipitation occurring three months earlier. Meanwhile, the impacts of temperature and radiation anomalies are more immediate and dissipate shortly, pointing to a higher resilience of vegetation to these anomalies. Despite being infrequent by definition, hydro-climatic extremes are responsible for up to 10\% of the vegetation variability during the 1981-2010 period in certain areas, particularly in water-limited ecosystems. Our approach is a first step towards a quantitative comparison of the resistance and resilience signature of different ecosystems, and can be used to benchmark Earth system models in their representations of past vegetation sensitivity to changes in climate.},
  articleno    = {074016},
  author       = {Papagiannopoulou, Christina and Gonzalez Miralles, Diego and Dorigo, Wouter A and Verhoest, Niko and Depoorter, Mathieu and Waegeman, Willem},
  issn         = {1748-9326},
  journal      = {ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {7},
  pages        = {10},
  title        = {Vegetation anomalies caused by antecedent precipitation in most of the world},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7145},
  volume       = {12},
  year         = {2017},
}

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