Country-level net primary production distribution and response to drought and land cover change Academic Article uri icon

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  • Carbon sequestration by terrestrial ecosystems can offset emissions and thereby offers an alternative way of achieving the target of reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Net primary production (NPP) is the first step in the sequestration of carbon by terrestrial ecosystems. This study quantifies moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) NPP from 2000 to 2014 at the country level along with its response to drought and land cover change. Our results indicate that the combined NPP for 53 countries represents >90% of global NPP. From 2000 to 2014, 29 of these 53 countries had increasing NPP trends, most notably the Central African Republic (23gC/m2/y). The top three and top 12 countries accounted for 30% and 60% of total global NPP, respectively, whereas the mean national NPP per unit area in the countries with the 12 lowest values was only around ~300gC/m2/y - the exception to this was Brazil, which had an NPP of 850gC/m2/y. Large areas of Russia, Argentina, Peru and several countries in southeast Asia showed a marked decrease in NPP (~15gC/m2/y). About 37% of the NPP decrease was caused by drought while ~55% of NPP variability was attributed to changes in water availability. Land cover change explained about 20% of the NPP variability. Our findings support the idea that government policies should aim primarily to improve water management in drought-afflicted countries; land use/land cover change policy could also be used as an alternative method of increasing NPP.


  • Peng, Dailiang
  • Zhang, Bing
  • Wu, Chaoyang
  • Huete, Alfredo R
  • Gonsamo Gosa, Alemu
  • Lei, Liping
  • Ponce-Campos, Guillermo E
  • Liu, Xinjie
  • Wu, Yanhong

publication date

  • January 2017