IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Drought in the Southern United States over the 20th century: variability and its impacts on terrestrial ecosystem productivity and carbon storage

Listed author(s):
  • Guangsheng Chen
  • Hanqin Tian


  • Chi Zhang
  • Mingliang Liu
  • Wei Ren
  • Wenquan Zhu
  • Arthur Chappelka
  • Stephen Prior
  • Graeme Lockaby
Registered author(s):

    Drought is one of the most devastating natural hazards faced by the Southern United States (SUS). Drought events and their adverse impacts on the economy, society and environment have been extensively reported during 1895–2007. Our aim is thus to characterize drought conditions in the SUS and explore the impacts on terrestrial ecosystem function (i.e., net primary productivity (NPP) and net carbon exchange (NCE)). Standard precipitation index (SPI) was used to characterize drought intensity and duration, and a process-based ecosystem model was used to explore the relationship between drought and ecosystem function. Combining overall information on growing-season SPI, drought area and duration, we concluded there was no significant change in drought conditions for the SUS during 1895–2007. However, increased drought intensity was found for many areas in the east, resulting in significant decreases in NPP for these areas, with the largest decrease up to 40% during extreme droughts. Changes in precipitation patterns increased C emissions of 0.16 Pg (1 Pg = 10 15 g) in the SUS during 1895–2007. The west (dry region) acted as a C sink due to increased precipitation, while the east (water-rich region) acted as a C source due to increased drought intensity. Both NPP and NCE significantly increased along a gradient of declining drought intensity. Changes in precipitation resulted in C sources in forest, wetland, and cropland ecosystems, while C sinks in shrubland and grassland ecosystems. Changes in air temperature could either enhance or reduce drought impacts on NPP and NCE across different vegetation types. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Climatic Change.

    Volume (Year): 114 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (September)
    Pages: 379-397

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:114:y:2012:i:2:p:379-397
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0410-z
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:114:y:2012:i:2:p:379-397. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

    or (Rebekah McClure)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.