Climate change includes not only changed rainfall amounts, but also the distribution, intensity and frequency of heavy rainfall events changes. This leads to a a generally decreased relationship between annual rainfall and vegetation production. Also, herbaceous and woody vegetation benefit differently from changed rainfall patterns. We have now 2 new studies online, exploring how changed rainfall distributions impact on vegetation production, disentangled in woody and herbaceous plants. We find field and satellite data based evidence that a shift towards earlier and later rains, and also a higher frequency of heavy rainfall events, benefits woody plants more than annual herbaceous plants.
Both studies are open access and can be viewed here:
Brandt, M., Hiernaux, P., Rasmussen, K., Tucker, C.J., Wigneron, J.-P., Diouf, A.A., Herrmann, S.M., Zhang, W., Kergoat, L., Mbow, C., Abel, C., Auda, Y., Fensholt, R., 2019. Changes in rainfall distribution promote woody foliage production in the Sahel. Communications Biology 2, 133. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-019-0383-9
Zhang, W., Brandt, M., Penuelas, J., Guichard, F., Tong, X., Tian, F., Fensholt, R., 2019. Ecosystem structural changes controlled by altered rainfall climatology in tropical savannas. Nature Communications 10, 671. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08602-6