Skip to Main Content
Global patterns of drought recoveryAuthor(s): Christopher R. Schwalm; William R. L. Anderegg; Anna M. Michalak; Joshua B. Fisher; Franco Biondi; George Koch; Marcy Litvak; Kiona Ogle; John D. Shaw; Adam Wolf; Deborah N. Huntzinger; Kevin Schaefer; Robert Cook; Yaxing Wei; Yuanyuan Fang; Daniel Hayes; Maoyi Huang; Atul Jain; Hanqin Tian
Source: Nature. 548: 202-205.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
Download Publication (5.0 MB)
DescriptionDrought, a recurring phenomenon with major impacts on both human and natural systems is the most widespread climatic extreme that negatively affects the land carbon sink. Although twentieth-century trends in drought regimes are ambiguous, across many regions more frequent and severe droughts are expected in the twenty-first century. Recovery time - how long an ecosystem requires to revert to its pre-drought functional state - is a critical metric of drought impact. Yet the factors influencing drought recovery and its spatiotemporal patterns at the global scale are largely unknown. Here we analyse three independent datasets of gross primary productivity and show that, across diverse ecosystems, drought recovery times are strongly associated with climate and carbon cycle dynamics, with biodiversity and CO2 fertilization as secondary factors. Our analysis also provides two key insights into the spatiotemporal patterns of drought recovery time: first, that recovery is longest in the tropics and high northern latitudes (both vulnerable areas of Earth’s climate system) and second, that drought impacts (assessed using the area of ecosystems actively recovering and time to recovery) have increased over the twentieth century. If droughts become more frequent, as expected, the time between droughts may become shorter than drought recovery time, leading to permanently damaged ecosystems and widespread degradation of the land carbon sink.
- You may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationSchwalm, Christopher R.; Anderegg, William R. L.; Michalak, Anna M.; Fisher, Joshua B.; Biondi, Franco; Koch, George; Litvak, Marcy; Ogle, Kiona; Shaw, John D.; Wolf, Adam; Huntzinger, Deborah N.; Schaefer, Kevin; Cook, Robert; Wei, Yaxing; Fang, Yuanyuan; Hayes, Daniel; Huang, Maoyi; Jain, Atul; Tian, Hanqin. 2017. Global patterns of drought recovery. Nature. 548: 202-205.
Keywordsdrought, recovery, ecosystems, land carbon sink
- Forest ecosystem re-organization underway in the southwestern United States: A preview of widespread forest changes in the Anthropocene?
- Spatial and temporal variability in fire occurrence within the Las Bayas Forestry Reserve, Durango, Mexico
- Is increased precipitation during the 20th century statistically or ecologically significant in the eastern US?
XML: View XML