Timing of climate variability and grassland productivity
Future climates are forecast to include greater precipitation variability and more frequent heat waves, but the degree to which the timing of climate variability impacts ecosystems is uncertain. In a temperate, humid grassland, we examined the seasonal impacts of climate variability on 27 y of grass productivity. Drought and high-intensity precipitation reduced grass productivity only during a 110-d period, whereas high temperatures reduced productivity only during 25 d in July. The effects of drought and heat waves declined over the season and had no detectable impact on grass productivity in August. If these patterns are general across ecosystems, predictions of ecosystem response to climate change will have to account not only for the magnitude of climate variability but also for its timing.
Keywords: Konza, net primary production, streamflow, critical climate periods