Understanding dryland dynamics is essential to predict future climate trajectories. However, there remains large uncertainty on the extent to which drylands are expanding or greening, the drivers of dryland vegetation shifts, the relative importance of different hydrological processes regulating ecosystem functioning, and the role of land-use changes and climate variability in shaping ecosystem productivity. We review recent advances in the study of dryland productivity and ecosystem function and examine major outstanding debates on dryland responses to environmental changes. We highlight often-neglected uncertainties in the observation and prediction of dryland productivity and elucidate the complexity of dryland dynamics. We suggest prioritizing holistic approaches to dryland management, accounting for the increasing climatic and anthropogenic pressures and the associated uncertainties.
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We acknowledge support from Division of Earth Sciences of National Science Foundation (EAR‐1554894). N.M. acknowledges funding from NASA Carbon Cycle Program grant no. 80NSSC21K1709, S.M. from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant no. 101001608), G.V. from European Commission and Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development FORMAS (grant 2018-02787) for funding in the frame of the collaborative international consortium iAqueduct, financed under the 2018 Joint call, and M.C.R. from the EU PRIMA Programme under Horizon 2020 European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (NEXUS-NESS an Art.185 initiative grant no, 2042). We thank the TRENDY v.7 modellers for providing simulations and the AmeriFlux, OzFlux and FLUXNET site principal investigators for providing the in situ eddy covariance flux tower CO2 and ET fluxes used to produce Fig. 6.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Wang, L., Jiao, W., MacBean, N. et al. Dryland productivity under a changing climate. Nat. Clim. Chang. 12, 981–994 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-022-01499-y