Changes in vegetation-water response in the Sahel-Sudan during recent decades

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Study region: The Africa Sahel-Sudan region, defined by annual rainfall between 150 and 1200 mm. Study focus: Understanding the mechanism of vegetation response to water availability could help mitigate the potential adverse effects of climate change on global dryland ecosystems. In the Sahel-Sudan region, spatio-temporal changes and drivers of the vegetation-water response remain unclear. This study employs long-term satellite water and vegetation products as proxies of water availability and vegetation productivity to analyze changes in vegetation-water sensitivity and the cumulative effect duration (CED) representing a measure of the legacy effect of the impact of water constraints on vegetation. A random forest model was subsequently used to analyze potential climatic drivers of the observed vegetation response. New hydrological insights for the region: During 1982–2016 we found a significant decrease (p < 0.05) in the sensitivity of vegetation productivity to water constraints in 26% of the Sahel-Sudan region, while 9% of the area showed a significantly increased sensitivity, mainly in the sub-humid zone. We further showed that CED significantly increased and decreased, respectively in around 9% of the study area in both cases. Our climatic driver attribution analysis suggested the existence of varying underlying mechanisms governing vegetation productivity in response to water deficit across the Sahel-Sudan dryland ecosystems. Our findings emphasize the need for diverse strategies in sustainable ecosystem management to effectively address these varying mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101672
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Climate variability, Cumulative effect duration, Drylands, Time series analysis, Vegetation-water sensitivity

ID: 386269837