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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-185
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-185
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 08 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 08 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Rapid reduction in ecosystem productivity caused by flash drought based on decade-long FLUXNET observations

Miao Zhang1,3 and Xing Yuan2 Miao Zhang and Xing Yuan
  • 1Key Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment for Temperate East Asia (RCE-TEA), Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
  • 2School of Hydrology and Water Resources, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • 3College of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Abstract. Flash drought is characterized by its rapid onset and arouses wide concerns due to its devastating impacts on the environment and society without sufficient early warnings. The increasing frequency of flash drought in a warming climate highlights the importance of understanding its impact on terrestrial ecosystems. Previous studies investigated the vegetation dynamics during several extreme cases of flash drought, but there is no quantitative assessment on how fast the carbon fluxes respond to flash drought based on decade-long records with different climates and vegetation conditions. Here we identify flash drought events by considering decline rate of soil moisture and the drought persistency, and detect the response of ecosystem carbon and water fluxes to flash drought during its onset and recovery stages based on observations at 34 FLUXNET stations from grasslands to forests. Corresponding to the sharp decline in soil moisture, gross primary productivity (GPP) drops below its normal conditions in the first 16 days and reduces to its minimum within 24 days for more than 50 % of the 165 identified flash drought events, and savannas show highest sensitivity to flash drought. Water use efficiency increases for forests but decreases for cropland and savanna during the recovery stage of flash droughts. These results demonstrate the rapid responses of vegetation productivity and physiological adaptation for forest ecosystems to flash drought.

Miao Zhang and Xing Yuan

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Miao Zhang and Xing Yuan

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Short summary
We identify flash drought events by considering decline rate of soil moisture and the drought persistency, and detect the response of ecosystem carbon and water fluxes to flash drought. We find negative impact on carbon assimilation occurs during 81 % of 165 flash drought events identified at 34 FLUXNET stations with 16–24 days, and savannas show highest sensitivity. Water use efficiency increases for forests but decreases for herbaceous ecosystems during recovery stage of flash droughts.
We identify flash drought events by considering decline rate of soil moisture and the drought...
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