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Journal Article

Terrestrial biodiversity threatened by increasing global aridity velocity under high-level warming


Shi,  Hao
External Organizations;

Tian,  Hanqin
External Organizations;


Lange,  Stefan
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Yang,  Jia
External Organizations;

Pan,  Shufen
External Organizations;

Fu,  Bojie
External Organizations;


Reyer,  Christopher P. O.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Shi, H., Tian, H., Lange, S., Yang, J., Pan, S., Fu, B., Reyer, C. P. O. (2021): Terrestrial biodiversity threatened by increasing global aridity velocity under high-level warming. - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 118, 36, e2015552118.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_25936
Global aridification is projected to intensify. Yet, our knowledge of its potential impacts on species ranges remains limited. Here, we investigate global aridity velocity and its overlap with three sectors (natural protected areas, agricultural areas, and urban areas) and terrestrial biodiversity in historical (1979 through 2016) and future periods (2050 through 2099), with and without considering vegetation physiological response to rising CO2. Both agricultural and urban areas showed a mean drying velocity in history, although the concurrent global aridity velocity was on average +0.05/+0.20 km/yr−1 (no CO2 effects/with CO2 effects; “+” denoting wetting). Moreover, in drylands, the shifts of vegetation greenness isolines were found to be significantly coupled with the tracks of aridity velocity. In the future, the aridity velocity in natural protected areas is projected to change from wetting to drying across RCP (representative concentration pathway) 2.6, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5 scenarios. When accounting for spatial distribution of terrestrial taxa (including plants, mammals, birds, and amphibians), the global aridity velocity would be -0.15/-0.02 km/yr−1 (“-” denoting drying; historical), -0.12/-0.15 km/yr−1 (RCP2.6), -0.36/-0.10 km/yr−1 (RCP6.0), and -0.75/-0.29 km/yr−1 (RCP8.5), with amphibians particularly negatively impacted. Under all scenarios, aridity velocity shows much higher multidirectionality than temperature velocity, which is mainly poleward. These results suggest that aridification risks may significantly influence the distribution of terrestrial species besides warming impacts and further impact the effectiveness of current protected areas in future, especially under RCP8.5, which best matches historical CO2 emissions