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Differential regional responses in drought length, intensity and timing to recent climate changes in a Mediterranean forested ecosystem

Abstract : The Mediterranean area is one of the regions of the world where GCMs agree the most on precipitation changes due to climate change. In this study we aim to assess the impact of recent climate change on drought features of Mediterranean ecosystems in Southern France. Regional climatic trends for the 1971-2006 period are compared to drought trends based on a water balance model accounting for soil properties, vegetation structure and functioning. Drought, defined here as periods when soil water potentials drop below -0.5 MPa, is described in terms of intensity, duration and timing, which are integrative of both climate variability and site conditions. Temporal trends in precipitation, temperature and solar radiation lead altogether to drier and warmer conditions over the region but with a high spatial heterogeneity; for similar climatic trends, a significant increase in drought intensity was detected in the wettest areas of the region, whereas drought intensity in the driest areas did not change. Indeed, in the wettest areas, we observed an earlier onset of drought by about 1 month, but a constant end of drought. In the driest areas of the region, we observed the same earlier onset of drought but combined with an earlier end of drought, thus leading to a shift of the dry season without increasing its duration. The definition of drought features both in terms of intensity but also of seasonal timing appears relevant to capture historical or forecasted changes in ecosystem functioning. Studies concerning climate change impacts on forested ecosystems should be interpreted with caution when using climate proxies alon
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02652415
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Submitted on : Friday, May 29, 2020 - 7:12:30 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 4:20:11 PM

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Julien Ruffault, Nicolas Martin-Stpaul, Serge Rambal, Florent Mouillot. Differential regional responses in drought length, intensity and timing to recent climate changes in a Mediterranean forested ecosystem. Climatic Change, Springer Verlag, 2013, 117 (1-2), pp.103-117. ⟨10.1007/s10584-012-0559-5⟩. ⟨hal-02652415⟩

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