Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-47
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-47

  08 Mar 2021

08 Mar 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Seasonal ecosystem vulnerability to climatic anomalies in the Mediterranean

Johannes Vogel1,2, Eva Paton1, and Valentin Aich3 Johannes Vogel et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Science and Geography, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Institute of Ecology, Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 3Global Water Partnership, Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract. Mediterranean ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change and the associated increase in climate extremes. This study investigates extreme ecosystem responses evoked by climatic drivers in the Mediterranean Basin for the time span 1999–2019 with a specific focus on seasonal variations, as the seasonal timing of climatic anomalies is considered essential for impact and vulnerability assessment. A bivariate vulnerability analysis is performed for each month of the year to quantify which combinations of the drivers temperature (obtained from ER5 Land) and soil moisture (obtained from ESA CCI and ERA5 Land) lead to extreme reductions of ecosystem productivity using the fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (FAPAR; obtained from Copernicus Global Land Service) as a proxy.

The bivariate analysis clearly showed that, in many cases, it is not just one but a combination of both drivers that causes ecosystem vulnerability. The overall pattern shows that Mediterranean ecosystems are prone to three soil moisture regimes during the yearly cycle: They are vulnerable to hot and dry conditions from May to July, to cold and dry conditions from August to October, and to cold conditions from November to April, illustrating the shift from a soil moisture-limited regime in summer to an energy-limited regime in winter. In late spring, a month with significant vulnerability to hot conditions only often precedes the next stage of vulnerability to both hot and dry conditions, suggesting that high temperatures lead to critically low soil moisture levels with a certain time lag. In the eastern Mediterranean, the period of vulnerability to hot and dry conditions within the year is much longer than in the western Mediterranean. Our results show that it is crucial to account for both spatial and temporal variability to adequately assess ecosystem vulnerability. The seasonal vulnerability approach presented in this study helps to provide detailed insights regarding the specific phenological stage of the year in which ecosystem vulnerability to a certain climatic condition occurs.

Johannes Vogel et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-47', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Mar 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Johannes Vogel, 20 May 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2021-47', Anonymous Referee #2, 10 Apr 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Johannes Vogel, 20 May 2021
  • EC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-47', Bart van den Hurk, 10 May 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on EC1', Johannes Vogel, 20 May 2021

Johannes Vogel et al.

Johannes Vogel et al.

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Short summary
This study investigates extreme ecosystem impacts evoked by temperature and soil moisture in the Mediterranean Basin for the time span 1999–2019 with a specific focus on seasonal variations. The analysis showed that ecosystem vulnerability is caused by several varying combinations of both drivers during the yearly cycle. The approach presented here helps to provide insights on the specific phenological stage of the year in which ecosystem vulnerability to a certain climatic condition occurs.
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