Analysis Shows More Extreme Droughts Will Reduce Plant Productivity

A study led by Los Alamos National Laboratory and published in Nature Climate Change shows that not only will droughts become more frequent under future climates, but more of those events will be extreme, adding to the reduction of plant production essential to human and animal populations. “Even though plants can, in many cases, benefit from increased levels of carbon dioxide that are predicted for the future atmosphere, the impact of severe drought on destroying these plants will be extreme, especially in the Amazon, South Africa, Mediterranean, Australia, and southwest USA,” said lead study author Chonggang Xu. The combination of low soil water availability, heat stress, and disturbances associated with droughts could offset any benefits plants might gain from fertilization by higher carbon dioxide concentrations.