Probabilistic model predicts dynamics of vegetation biomass in a desert ecosystem in NW China [Ecology]
The temporal dynamics of vegetation biomass are of key importance for evaluating the sustainability of arid and semiarid ecosystems. In these ecosystems, biomass and soil moisture are coupled stochastic variables externally driven, mainly, by the rainfall dynamics. Based on long-term field observations in northwestern (NW) China, we test a recently developed analytical scheme for the description of the leaf biomass dynamics undergoing seasonal cycles with different rainfall characteristics. The probabilistic characterization of such dynamics agrees remarkably well with the field measurements, providing a tool to forecast the changes to be expected in biomass for arid and semiarid ecosystems under climate change conditions. These changes will depend—for each season—on the forecasted rate of rainy days, mean depth of rain in a rainy day, and duration of the season. For the site in NW China, the current scenario of an increase of 10% in rate of rainy days, 10% in mean rain depth in a rainy day, and no change in the season duration leads to forecasted increases in mean leaf biomass near 25% in both seasons.
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