Yao, JY; Liu, HP; Huang, JP; Gao, ZM; Wang, GY; Li, D; Yu, HP; Chen, XY (2020). Accelerated dryland expansion regulates future variability in dryland gross primary production. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 11(1), 1665.

Drylands cover 41% of Earth's surface and are the largest source of interannual variability in the global carbon sink. Drylands are projected to experience accelerated expansion over the next century, but the implications of this expansion on variability in gross primary production (GPP) remain elusive. Here we show that by 2100 total dryland GPP will increase by 12 +/- 3% relative to the 2000-2014 baseline. Because drylands will largely expand into formerly productive ecosystems, this increase in dryland GPP may not increase global GPP. Further, GPP per unit dryland area will decrease as degradation of historical drylands outpaces the higher GPP of expanded drylands. Dryland expansion and climate-induced conversions among sub-humid, semi-arid, arid, and hyper-arid subtypes will lead to substantial changes in regional and subtype contributions to global dryland GPP variability. Our results highlight the vulnerability of dryland subtypes to more frequent and severe climate extremes and suggest that regional variations will require different mitigation strategies.