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Interacting effects of vegetation, soils and management on the sensitivity of Australian savanna rangelands to climate change

Webb, N. P. and Stokes, C. J. and Scanlan, J. C. (2012) Interacting effects of vegetation, soils and management on the sensitivity of Australian savanna rangelands to climate change. Climatic Change, 112 (3-4). pp. 925-943. ISSN 0165-0009

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-011-0236-0

Publisher URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-011-0236-0#

Abstract

There is an increasing need to understand what makes vegetation at some locations more sensitive to climate change than others. For savanna rangelands, this requires building knowledge of how forage production in different land types will respond to climate change, and identifying how location-specific land type characteristics, climate and land management control the magnitude and direction of its responses to change. Here, a simulation analysis is used to explore how forage production in 14 land types of the north-eastern Australian rangelands responds to three climate change scenarios of +3A degrees C, +17% rainfall; +2A degrees C, -7% rainfall; and +3A degrees C, -46% rainfall. Our results demonstrate that the controls on forage production responses are complex, with functional characteristics of land types interacting to determine the magnitude and direction of change. Forage production may increase by up to 60% or decrease by up to 90% in response to the extreme scenarios of change. The magnitude of these responses is dependent on whether forage production is water or nitrogen (N) limited, and how climate changes influence these limiting conditions. Forage production responds most to changes in temperature and moisture availability in land types that are water-limited, and shows the least amount of change when growth is restricted by N availability. The fertilisation effects of doubled atmospheric CO2 were found to offset declines in forage production under 2A degrees C warming and a 7% reduction in rainfall. However, rising tree densities and declining land condition are shown to reduce potential opportunities from increases in forage production and raise the sensitivity of pastures to climate-induced water stress. Knowledge of these interactions can be applied in engaging with stakeholders to identify adaptation options.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Additional Information:Webb, Nicholas P. Stokes, Chris J. Scanlan, Joe C.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural meteorology. Crops and climate
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Deposited On:04 Feb 2014 03:02
Last Modified:04 Feb 2014 03:02

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