Climate Change Impacts on Net Ecosystem Productivity in a Subtropical Shrubland of Northwestern México

Vivian S. Verduzco, Enrique R. Vivoni, Enrico A. Yépez, Julio C. Rodríguez, Christopher J. Watts, Tonantzin Tarin, Jaime Garatuza-Payán, Agustin Robles-Morua, Valeriy Y. Ivanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The sensitivity of semiarid ecosystems to climate change is not well understood due to competing effects of soil and plant-mediated carbon fluxes. Limited observations of net ecosystem productivity (NEP) under rising air temperature and CO2 and altered precipitation regimes also hinder climate change assessments. A promising avenue for addressing this challenge is through the application of numerical models. In this work, we combine a mechanistic ecohydrological model and a soil carbon model to simulate soil and plant processes in a subtropical shrubland of northwest México. Due to the influence of the North American monsoon, the site exhibits net carbon losses early in the summer and net carbon gains during the photosynthetically active season. After building confidence in the simulations through comparisons with eddy covariance flux data, we conduct a series of climate change experiments for near-future (2030–2045) scenarios that test the impact of meteorological changes and CO2 fertilization relative to historical conditions (1990–2005). Results indicate that reductions in NEP arising from warmer conditions are effectively offset by gains in NEP due to the impact of higher CO2 on water use efficiency. For cases with higher summer rainfall and CO2 fertilization, climate change impacts lead to an increase of ~25% in NEP relative to historical conditions (mean of 66 g C m−2). Net primary production and soil respiration derived from decomposition are shown to be important processes that interact to control NEP and, given the role of semiarid ecosystems in the global carbon budget, deserve attention in future simulation efforts of ecosystem fluxes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-711
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

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©2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • North American monsoon
  • carbon fluxes
  • climate change
  • ecohydrology
  • eddy covariance
  • modeling


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