Woody Plant Encroachment has a Larger Impact than Climate Change on Dryland Water Budgets

TitleWoody Plant Encroachment has a Larger Impact than Climate Change on Dryland Water Budgets
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSchreiner-McGraw AP, Vivoni ER, Ajami H, Sala OE, Throop HL, Peters DC
JournalNature
Volume10
Issue8112
Date Published05/2020
ARIS Log Number369116
Abstract

Woody plant encroachment (WPE) into grasslands is a global phenomenon that is associated with land degradation via xerifcation, which replaces grasses with shrubs and bare soil patches. It remains uncertain how the global processes of WPE and climate change may combine to impact water availability for ecosystems. Using a process-based model constrained by watershed observations, our results suggest that both xerifcation and climate change augment groundwater recharge by increasing channel transmission losses at the expense of plant available water. Conversion from grasslands to shrublands without creating additional bare soil, however, reduces transmission losses. Model simulations considering both WPE and climate change are used to assess their relative roles in a late 21st century condition. Results indicate that changes in focused channel recharge are determined primarily by the WPE pathway. As a result, WPE should be given consideration when assessing the vulnerability of groundwater aquifers to climate change.

URLfiles/bibliography/20-018.pdf
DOI10.1038/s41598-020-65094-x