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Characterising the response of vegetation cover to water limitation in Africa using geostationary satellites
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  • Çağlar Küçük,
  • Sujan Koirala,
  • Nuno Carvalhais,
  • Diego G. Miralles,
  • Markus Reichstein,
  • Martin Jung
Çağlar Küçük
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Corresponding Author:ckucuk@bgc-jena.mpg.de

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Sujan Koirala
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
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Nuno Carvalhais
MPI-Jena, MPI-Jena
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Diego G. Miralles
Ghent University, Ghent University
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Markus Reichstein
Max Planck Institute fur Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute fur Biogeochemistry
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Martin Jung
Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry
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Hydrological interactions between vegetation, soil, and topography are complex, and heterogeneous in semi-arid landscapes. This along with data scarcity poses challenges for large-scale modelling of vegetation-water interactions. Here, we exploit metrics derived from daily Meteosat data over Africa at ca. 5 km spatial resolution for ecohydrological analysis. Their spatial patterns are based on Fractional Vegetation Cover (FVC) time series and emphasise limiting conditions of the seasonal wet to dry transition: the minimum and maximum FVC of temporal record, the FVC decay rate and the FVC integral over the decay period. We investigate the relevance of these metrics for large scale ecohydrological studies by assessing their co-variation with soil moisture, and with topographic, soil, and vegetation factors. Consistent with our initial hypothesis, FVC minimum and maximum increase with soil moisture, while the FVC integral and decay rate peak at intermediate soil moisture. We find evidence for the relevance of topographic moisture variations in arid regions, which, counter-intuitively, is detectable in the maximum but not in the minimum FVC. We find no clear evidence for wide-spread occurrence of the “inverse texture effect”’ on FVC. The FVC integral over the decay period correlates with independent data sets of plant water storage capacity or rooting depth while correlations increase with aridity. In arid regions, the FVC decay rate decreases with canopy height and tree cover fraction as expected for ecosystems with a more conservative water-use strategy. Thus, our observation-based products have large potential for better understanding complex vegetation–water interactions from regional to continental scales.