Satellite detection of cumulative and lagged effects of drought on autumn leaf senescence over the Northern Hemisphere
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Climate change has substantial influences on autumn leaf senescence, that is, the end of the growing season (EOS). Relative to the impacts of temperature and precipitation on EOS, the influence of drought is not well understood, especially considering that there are apparent cumulative and lagged effects of drought on plant growth. Here, we investigated the cumulative and lagged effects of drought (in terms of the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index, SPEI) on EOS derived from the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI3g) data over the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical ecosystems (>30°N) during 1982-2015. The cumulative effect was determined by the number of antecedent months at which SPEI showed the maximum correlation with EOS (i.e., Rmax-cml ) while the lag effect was determined by a month during which the maximum correlation between 1-month SPEI and EOS occurred (i.e., Rmax-lag ). We found cumulative effect of drought on EOS for 27.2% and lagged effect for 46.2% of the vegetated land area. For the dominant time scales where the Rmax-cml and Rmax-lag occurred, we observed 1-4 accumulated months for the cumulative effect and 2-6 lagged months for the lagged effect. At the biome level, drought had stronger impacts on EOS in grasslands, savannas, and shrubs than in forests, which may be related to the different root functional traits among vegetation types. Considering hydrological conditions, the mean values of both Rmax-cml and Rmax-lag decreased along the gradients of annual SPEI and its slope, suggesting stronger cumulative and lagged effects in drier regions as well as in areas with decreasing water availability. Furthermore, the average accumulated and lagged months tended to decline along the annual SPEI gradient but increase with increasing annual SPEI. Our results revealed that drought has strong cumulative and lagged effects on autumn phenology, and considering these effects could provide valuable information on the vegetation response to a changing climate.
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