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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Grasslands may be more sensitive to rising temperatures than precipitation

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March 8, 2017 0 Comments Fangzhou Liu  Managing Editor of News  Stanford University full article here

A team of Stanford and Columbia University researchers have found that U.S. grasslands may be more sensitive to atmospheric dryness than rainfall; their study suggests that scientists may have to look more to rising temperatures than precipitation in predicting plants’ response to global warming. Published on March 6 in Nature Geoscience, the researchers’ study examined 33 years of satellite data to understand grassland productivity in dry conditions. The timescale and quantity of data the team examined allows the study to inform predictive models of how environments will respond to droughts — which are likely to become more prevalent with rising temperatures around the globe.  …”U.S. grasslands are way more sensitive to vapor pressure deficit (VPD), which is important. Because VPD is so tightly linked to temperature, we can predict that it’s going to keep going up in the future.”…

Sensitivity of grassland productivity to aridity controlled by stomatal and xylem regulation

  1. Konings, A. P. Williams & P. Gentine Nature Geoscience (2017) doi:10.1038/ngeo2903

…We conclude that increases in vapour pressure deficit rather than changes in precipitation—both of which are expected impacts of climate change—will be a dominant influence on future grassland productivity.

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