Research ArticleATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Projected increases in intensity, frequency, and terrestrial carbon costs of compound drought and aridity events

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  23 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaau5740
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau5740

Abstract

Drought and atmospheric aridity pose large risks to ecosystem services and agricultural production. However, these factors are seldom assessed together as compound events, although they often occur simultaneously. Drought stress on terrestrial carbon uptake is characterized by soil moisture (SM) deficit and high vapor pressure deficit (VPD). We used in situ observations and 15 Earth system models to show that compound events with very high VPD and low SM occur more frequently than expected if these events were independent. These compound events are projected to become more frequent and more extreme and exert increasingly negative effects on continental productivity. Models project intensified negative effects of high VPD and low SM on vegetation productivity, with the intensification of SM exceeding those of VPD in the Northern Hemisphere. These results highlight the importance of compound extreme events and their threats for the capability of continents to act as a carbon sink.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text