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Revisiting global vegetation controls using multi-layer soil moisture
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  • Wantong Li,
  • Mirco Migliavacca,
  • Matthias Forkel,
  • Sophia Walther,
  • Markus Reichstein,
  • Rene Orth
Wantong Li
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Mirco Migliavacca
European Commission - Joint Research Centre (JRC)
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Matthias Forkel
Technische Universit├Ąt Dresden
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Sophia Walther
Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry
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Markus Reichstein
Max Planck Institute fur Biogeochemistry
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Rene Orth
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
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The productivity of terrestrial vegetation is determined by a multitude of drivers between the land surface and atmosphere. Water availability is critical for vegetation productivity, but the vertical dimension of soil moisture has been largely overlooked. Here, we analyze dominant controls of global vegetation productivity represented by sun-induced fluorescence and spectral vegetation indices at the half-monthly time scale. We apply random forests to predict anomalies of vegetation productivity from a comprehensive set of hydro-meteorological variables including multi-layer soil moisture and quantify the variable importance. Dominant hydro-meteorological controls generally vary with latitudes: temperature in higher latitudes, solar radiation in lower latitudes, and soil moisture from sub-surface layers in between. We find that including vertically resolved soil moisture allows a better understanding of vegetation productivity and reveals a broader water-related control. This is found especially for semiarid regions, illustrating the global relevance of deep(er) rooting systems as an adaptation to water limitation.
16 Jun 2021Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 48 issue 11. 10.1029/2021GL092856