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

Adam P. Schreiner-McGraw, Enrique R. Vivoni, Hoori Ajami, Osvaldo E. Sala, Heather L. Throop, Debra P.C. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Woody plant encroachment (WPE) into grasslands is a global phenomenon that is associated with land degradation via xerification, 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 xerification 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8112
JournalScientific reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Woody Plant Encroachment has a Larger Impact than Climate Change on Dryland Water Budgets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this