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Reduced streamflow in water-stressed climates consistent with CO2 effects on vegetation

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Title: Reduced streamflow in water-stressed climates consistent with CO2 effects on vegetation
Authors: Ukkola, AM
Prentice, IC
Keenan, TF
Van Dijk, AIJM
Viney, NR
Myneni, RB
Bi, J
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Global environmental change has implications for the spatial and temporal distribution of water resources, but quantifying its effects remains a challenge. The impact of vegetation responses to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations on the hydrologic cycle is particularly poorly constrained1, 2, 3. Here we combine remotely sensed normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data and long-term water-balance evapotranspiration (ET) measurements from 190 unimpaired river basins across Australia during 1982–2010 to show that the precipitation threshold for water limitation of vegetation cover has significantly declined during the past three decades, whereas sub-humid and semi-arid basins are not only ‘greening’ but also consuming more water, leading to significant (24–28%) reductions in streamflow. In contrast, wet and arid basins show nonsignificant changes in NDVI and reductions in ET. These observations are consistent with expected effects of elevated CO2 on vegetation. They suggest that projected future decreases in precipitation4 are likely to be compounded by increased vegetation water use, further reducing streamflow in water-stressed regions.
Issue Date: 19-Oct-2015
Date of Acceptance: 21-Aug-2015
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/56690
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NCLIMATE2831
ISSN: 1758-6798
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Start Page: 75
End Page: 78
Journal / Book Title: Nature Climate Change
Volume: 6
Copyright Statement: Copyright © 2015, Springer Nature
Sponsor/Funder: AXA Research Fund
Funder's Grant Number: AXA Chair Programme in Biosphere and Climate Impacts
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Physical Sciences
Environmental Sciences
Environmental Studies
Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
ELEVATED ATMOSPHERIC CO2
CARBON-DIOXIDE
EQUILIBRIUM EVAPORATION
TIME-SERIES
TRENDS
NDVI
BALANCE
BIOMASS
EVAPOTRANSPIRATION
ECOSYSTEMS
Publication Status: Published
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences
Department of Life Sciences
Grantham Institute for Climate Change