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Open AccessArticle

Assessing the Response of Ecosystem Water Use Efficiency to Drought During and after Drought Events across Central Asia

by Jie Zou 1,2, Jianli Ding 1,2,*, Martin Welp 3, Shuai Huang 1,2 and Bohua Liu 1,2
Xinjiang Common University Key Lab of Smart City and Environmental Stimulation, College of Resources and Environment Sciences, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830046, China
Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology under Ministry of Education, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830046, China
Faculty of Forest and Environment, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Eberswalde 16225, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2020, 20(3), 581;
Received: 23 December 2019 / Revised: 13 January 2020 / Accepted: 19 January 2020 / Published: 21 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors, Control, and Telemetry)
The frequency and intensity of drought are expected to increase worldwide in the future. However, it is still unclear how ecosystems respond to drought. Ecosystem water use efficiency (WUE) is an essential ecological index used to measure the global carbon–water cycles, and is defined as the carbon absorbed per unit of water lost by the ecosystem. In this study, we applied gross primary productivity (GPP), evapotranspiration (ET), land surface temperature (LST), and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data to calculate the WUE and drought index (temperature vegetation dryness index (TVDI)), all of which were retrieved from moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. We compared the mean WUE across different vegetation types, drought classifications, and countries. The temporal and spatial changes in WUE and drought were analyzed. The correlation between drought and WUE was calculated and compared across different vegetation types, and the differences in WUE between drought and post-drought periods were compared. The results showed that (1) ecosystems with a low (high) productivity had a high (low) WUE, and the mean ecosystem WUE of Central Asia showed vast differences across various drought levels, countries, and vegetation types. (2) The WUE in Central Asia exhibited an increasing trend from 2000 to 2014, and Central Asia experienced both drought (from 2000 to 2010) and post-drought (from 2011 to 2014) periods. (3) The WUE showed a negative correlation with drought during the drought period, and an obvious drought legacy effect was found, in which severe drought affected the ecosystem WUE over the following two years, while a positive correlation between WUE and drought was found in the post-drought period. (4) A significant increase in ecosystem WUE was found after drought, which revealed that arid ecosystems exhibit high resilience to drought stress. Our results can provide a specific reference for understanding how ecosystems will respond to climate change. View Full-Text
Keywords: water use efficiency; drought; arid land; legacy effect; resilience water use efficiency; drought; arid land; legacy effect; resilience
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Zou, J.; Ding, J.; Welp, M.; Huang, S.; Liu, B. Assessing the Response of Ecosystem Water Use Efficiency to Drought During and after Drought Events across Central Asia. Sensors 2020, 20, 581.

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