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The consequences of climate change for dryland biogeochemistry

June 15, 2022

Drylands, which cover more than 40% of Earth’s terrestrial surface, are dominant drivers of global biogeochemical cycling and home to more than one third of the human population. Climate projections predict warming, drought frequency and severity, and evaporative demand will increase in drylands at faster rates than global means. Due to extreme temperatures and high biological dependency on limited water availability, drylands are predicted to be exceptionally sensitive to climate change and, indeed, significant climate impacts are already being observed. Yet our understanding and ability to forecast climate change effects on dryland biogeochemistry and ecosystem functions lag behind many mesic systems. To improve our capacity to forecast ecosystem change, we propose focusing on the controls and consequences of two key characteristics affecting dryland biogeochemistry: i) high spatial and temporal heterogeneity in environmental conditions and ii) generalized resource scarcity. In addition to climate change, drylands are experiencing accelerating land use change. Building our understanding of dryland biogeochemistry in both intact and disturbed systems will better equip us to address the interacting effects of climate change and landscape degradation. Responding to these challenges will require a diverse, globally distributed, and interdisciplinary community of dryland experts united towards better understanding these vast and important ecosystems.

Publication Year 2022
Title The consequences of climate change for dryland biogeochemistry
DOI 10.1111/nph.18312
Authors Brooke Bossert Osborne, Brandon T. Bestelmeyer, Courtney M. Currier, Peter M Homyak, Heather L. Throop, Kristina E Young, Sasha C. Reed
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title New Phytologist Foundation
Index ID 70232417
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center