EGU21-12345, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Water stress and their implications on the ecohydrology of rainforests

Chandrakant Singh1,2,3, Lan Wang-Erlandsson1,2, Ingo Fetzer1,2, Johan Rockström4, and Ruud van der Ent3,5
Chandrakant Singh et al.
  • 1Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden (
  • 2Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Department of Water Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 4Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 5Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Rainforests have been a major controller of local and global climate by maintaining carbon stocks and regulating global water cycle. However, the water cycle is increasingly impacted by climate change and ongoing deforestation, which forces rainforest ecosystems to adapt differently to increasing water-stress. To understand future rainforest dynamics towards changing hydroclimate, their resilience capacity to future changes and estimating potential tipping points, it is detrimental that we quantify moisture available to vegetation. However, due to the physical limitations in quantifying subsurface moisture availability of terrestrial ecosystems at continental scales, only rainfall is considered a primary control variable to represent the forest's ecohydrological status. In the present study, using remote-sensing derived rootzone storage capacity (Sr), we analyze the water-stress and drought coping strategies along rainforest-savanna transects in South America and Africa at different tree cover densities. We further classified the ecosystem's adaptability to water-stress into four classes: lowlymoderatelyhighly water-stressed forest, and savanna-grassland regime using empirical and statistical analysis. Based on these analyses, we can show that forests subsequently invest in their rooting strategy and modify their above-ground forest cover in response to the water-stress experienced by it. We observed that remote sensing-based rootzone storage capacity reveals important subsoil forest dynamics and can act as an important hydroclimatic stress indicator for vegetation. Monitoring of rootzone storage capacity helps open new paths to understanding the eco-hydrological state, ecosystem resilience, and adaptation dynamics in a rapidly changing climate.


Source: Singh, C. et al. (2020). Rootzone storage capacity reveals drought coping strategies along rainforest-savanna transitions. Environmental Research Letters, 15(12), 124021. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/abc377

How to cite: Singh, C., Wang-Erlandsson, L., Fetzer, I., Rockström, J., and van der Ent, R.: Water stress and their implications on the ecohydrology of rainforests, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12345,, 2021.

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