EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Testing the space-for-time substitution on the temperature sensitivity of terrestrial vegetation

Naixin Fan1,2, Matthias Forkel1, and Nuno Carvalhais2,3,4
Naixin Fan et al.
  • 2Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans Knöll Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
  • 3ELLIS Unit Jena, 07745 Jena, Germany
  • 4Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente, DCEA, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, FCT, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal

Space-for-time substitution has been used to infer long-term ecological processes such as vegetation dynamics, turnover of species, nutrient cycling, etc. The theory of space-for-time substitution was established to understand temporal processes from contemporary spatial patterns or gradients due to the lack of long-term temporal observations on the response of vegetation to climate change. However, the validity of this theory has been largely debated mostly due to the fact that the fundamental assumption, a climate or an environmental driver of the spatial gradient also drive its temporal change, has not been systematically tested. There is still lack of quantitative understanding of the interaction between climate and vegetation at different spatial and temporal scales. In this study, we used global observations of spatiotemporal changes in several proxies of vegetation (e.g., NDVI) to investigate the link between space and time in the responses of vegetation to climate. We show that the temperature sensitivities of vegetation derived from large scale spatial gradient (space) are highly correlated with the temporal temperature sensitivity (time). Our goal of this study is not only providing quantitively analysis on the spatiotemporal linkage in terrestrial vegetation but also to provide a broader perspective on the methodology that links space and time in understanding the variability of global vegetation. 

How to cite: Fan, N., Forkel, M., and Carvalhais, N.: Testing the space-for-time substitution on the temperature sensitivity of terrestrial vegetation, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-4168,, 2023.