Geophysical Research Letters

Superstatistics of hydro-climatic fluctuations and interannual ecosystem productivity



[1] Ecosystems driven by hydro-climatic fluctuations at different time scales can be interpreted as non-equilibrium dynamical systems. Here we explore the propagation of daily and interannual rainfall fluctuations through the soil-plant system using the theory of superstatistics. With the help of simplified stochastic models of rainfall, we show how interactions of daily and interannual rainfall fluctuations may qualitatively change the probability distributions of rainfall toward higher frequencies of extreme droughts and intense storms. This in turn is likely to induce marked changes in productivity of mesic ecosystems, while more xeric ecosystems might be insensitive or even benefit from them. This study provides a theoretical basis for predictions of ecosystem responses to the increased precipitation variability expected in future North American climate regimes.