Document Type


Publication Date



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Forestry and Natural Resources


Drought can affect the structure, composition and function of terrestrial ecosystems, yet drought impacts and post-drought recovery potentials of different land cover types have not been extensively studied at a global scale. We evaluated drought impacts on gross primary productivity (GPP), evapotranspiration (ET), and water use efficiency (WUE) of different global terrestrial ecosystems, as well as the drought-resilience of each ecosystem type during the period of 2000 to 2011. Using GPP as biome vitality indicator against drought stress, we developed a model to examine ecosystem resilience represented by the length of recovery days (LRD). LRD presented an evident gradient of high (>60 days) in mid-latitude region and low (<60 days) in low (tropical area) and high (boreal area) latitude regions. As average GPP increased, the LRD showed a significantly decreasing trend, indicating readiness to recover after drought, across various land cover types (R 2 = 0.68, p < 0.0001). Moreover, zonal analysis revealed that the most dramatic reduction of the drought-induced GPP was found in the mid-latitude region of the Northern Hemisphere (48% reduction), followed by the low-latitude region of the Southern Hemisphere (13% reduction). In contrast, a slightly enhanced GPP (10%) was evident in the tropical region under drought impact. Additionally, the highest drought-induced reduction of ET was found in the Mediterranean area, followed by Africa. Water use efficiency, however, showed a pattern of decreasing in the Northern Hemisphere and increasing in the Southern Hemisphere. Drought induced reductions of WUE ranged from 0.96% to 27.67% in most of the land cover types, while the increases of WUE found in Evergreen Broadleaf Forest and savanna were about 7.09% and 9.88%, respectively. These increases of GPP and WUE detected during drought periods could either be due to water-stress induced responses or data uncertainties, which require further investigation.

Source Citation

Yu, Z., Wang, J., Liu, S., Rentch, J. S., Sun, P., & Lu, C. (2017). Global gross primary productivity and water use efficiency changes under drought stress. Environmental Research Letters, 12(1), 14016.


Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.