Cheng, Shanjun, Huang, Jianping

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Published date March 17, 2016

Enhanced soil moisture drying in transitional regions under a warming climate

  • Analyzes global trends of soil moisture for the period 1948–2010 using the Global Land Data Assimilation System data set
  • Finds soil moisture was dominated by negative trends, with pronounced drying over East Asia and the Sahel
  • Reveals—using spatial analysis according to climatic region—that the most obvious drying occurred over transitional regions between dry and wet climates
  • Finds the noticeable drying first took place in the humid transitional regions and extended to the dry transitional regions, beginning in the 1980s
  • Finds the variability of soil moisture was notably related to the changes in precipitation and temperature, but with different roles
  • Finds that for the global average, precipitation had a dominant effect on the variability of soil moisture at interannual to decadal time scales, but temperature was the main cause of the long-term trend of soil moisture on the whole
  • Results indicate the enhanced soil drying in the transitional regions was primarily caused by global warming, which is illustrated by regression analysis and the land surface model