A Caltech Library Service

Hydrologic connectivity drives extremes and high variability in vegetation productivity across Australian arid and semi-arid ecosystems

Norton, Alexander J. and Rayner, Peter J. and Wang, Ying-Ping and Parazoo, Nicholas C. and Baskaran, Latha and Briggs, Peter R. and Haverd, Vanessa and Doughty, Russell (2022) Hydrologic connectivity drives extremes and high variability in vegetation productivity across Australian arid and semi-arid ecosystems. Remote Sensing of Environment, 272 . Art. No. 112937. ISSN 0034-4257. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2022.112937.

[img] PDF (Supplementary data) - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Vegetation growth drives many of the interactions between the land surface and atmosphere including the uptake of carbon through photosynthesis and loss of water through transpiration. In arid and semi-arid regions water is the dominant driver of vegetation growth. However, few studies consider the fact that water can move laterally across the landscape as runoff via streams and floodplains, termed hydrologic connectivity. Using multiple observations alongside models and a hydromorphology dataset for Australia, we examine how ecosystems with high hydrologic connectivity differ in their vegetation response to water availability, soil properties, and interannual variability and extremes in vegetation productivity. We find that the average interannual variability of vegetation productivity is 21–34% higher in ecosystems with high hydrologic connectivity, with skewed annual anomalies showing larger extremes in carbon uptake. This is driven by a higher average and more variable surface soil moisture and significantly higher soil available water capacity and soil depth. These spatially small ecosystems, covering 14% of the study region, contribute 15–22% (median = 17%) to regional-scale carbon uptake through higher rates of gross photosynthesis, especially evident during wet years, and 3–37% (median = 19%) to annual anomalies. Current global land surface models do not reproduce the observed spatial patterns of interannual variability in carbon uptake over regions where hydrologic connectivity is high as they lack the mechanism of connectivity of water between discrete land surface elements. This study highlights the significant role of riparian and floodplain vegetation on the interannual variability and extremes of the regional carbon cycle.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Parazoo, Nicholas C.0000-0002-4424-7780
Haverd, Vanessa0000-0003-4359-5895
Doughty, Russell0000-0001-5191-2155
Additional Information:© 2022 Published by Elsevier. Received 21 June 2021, Revised 21 January 2022, Accepted 30 January 2022, Available online 10 February 2022, Version of Record 10 February 2022. A portion of this research was supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. Alexander Norton, Nicholas Parazoo, and Latha Baskaran were all supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Alexander Norton was also partly supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award provided by the Australian Government and a CSIRO OCE Scholarship. Peter Rayner was supported by the School of Earth Science, University of Melbourne, and the Climate and Energy College. Ying-Ping Wang was supported by the National Environmental Science Program (climate change and earth system science). The contributions of Vanessa Haverd and Peter Briggs were funded by National Environmental Science Program Project 5.6 – The carbon budget of continental Australia and possible future trajectories. RD is supported by NASA Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) Program (NNN12AA01C) and OCO-2/3 Science Team (80NSSC18K0895). Credit author statement. Conceptualization by AJN, PJR., and Y-PW. Methodology by AJN, PJR. Y-PW and NCP. Software and resources by LB, PRB, VH, and RD. Formal analysis by AJN. Original draft writing by AJN. Review and editing by AJN, PJR., Y-PW, NCP, LB, PRB, VH, and RD. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO)UNSPECIFIED
University of MelbourneUNSPECIFIED
National Environmental Science ProgramProject 5.6
Subject Keywords:Ecohydrology; Carbon cycle; Photosynthesis; Vegetation dynamics
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220308-454035000
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Alexander J. Norton, Peter J. Rayner, Ying-Ping Wang, Nicholas C. Parazoo, Latha Baskaran, Peter R. Briggs, Vanessa Haverd, Russell Doughty, Hydrologic connectivity drives extremes and high variability in vegetation productivity across Australian arid and semi-arid ecosystems, Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 272, 2022, 112937, ISSN 0034-4257,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113798
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:09 Mar 2022 16:21
Last Modified:09 Mar 2022 16:21

Repository Staff Only: item control page