Examining Drought Sensitivity Across California Ecosystems

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dr. Tim Assal of the Fort Collins Science Center recently co-authored an article in the journal Ecosphere examining the differences in drought sensitivity across California ecosystems. Ecosystem resistance to the recent, severe drought was found to be lower in higher productivity systems compared to arid regions that are adapted to limited water resources. The authors derived a key metric, water use efficiency, from MODIS satellite data as an alternative to single point flux tower measurements that enables analysis of ecosystem function at broad spatial and temporal scales. Water use efficiency considers the net amount of carbon pushed into an ecosystem (i.e. net primary productivity) compared to the amount of water lost from plants to the atmosphere (i.e. evapotranspiration). The article, “Drought resistance across California ecosystems: evaluating changes in carbon dynamics using satellite imagery,” is a product of collaboration with other scientists through the Open Science for Synthesis program at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

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Timothy Assal