Global convergence but regional disparity in the hydrological resilience of ecosystems and watersheds to drought

Baolin Xue, Guoqiang Wang*, Jingfeng Xiao, David Helman, Wenchao Sun, Jianhua Wang, Tingxi Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Drought is a major climate disturbance that can lower vegetation productivity and induce widespread vegetation die-off, which in turn can have a profound effect on the water cycle. Therefore, quantification of vegetation-specific responses to drought is essential to predict the impacts of climate change on ecosystem services. We used two previously-suggested quantitative metrics – dynamic deviation (d) and elasticity (e) based on the Budyko framework –to evaluate site- and watershed-level hydrological resilience of different plant functional types (PFTs) to drought. By using data from 41 FLUXNET sites and 2275 watersheds, we found a global convergence in hydrological resilience to drought across a variety of PFTs. Hydrological resilience of vegetation was related to drought intensity and water use efficiency. A greater hydrological resilience was found in PTFs in drier areas than in wetter areas, while this greater hydrological resilience was related to the coefficient of variation in precipitation. We also found that PFTs with a larger water use efficiency had higher hydrological resilience, particularly in drier regions, indicating adaptation strategies to changes in local climate conditions. Our findings can shed light on how ecosystems and watersheds dominated by different PFTs will respond to future climatic change and inform water resources management.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number125589
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Budyko method
  • Drought
  • Ecosystems
  • Fluxnet
  • Resilience
  • Watershed


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