New papers on the impact of changed rainfall patterns on savanna vegetation

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


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