http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-10/osu-lt100110.php Public release date: 10-Oct-2010 [ Print | E-mail | Share ] [ Close Window ] Contact: Beverly Law firstname.lastname@example.org 541-737-6111 Oregon State University Land 'evapotranspiration' taking unexpected turn: huge parts of world are drying up CORVALLIS, Ore. – The soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including major portions of Australia, Africa and South America, have been drying up in the past decade, a group of researchers conclude in the first major study to ever examine "evapotranspiration" on a global basis. Most climate models have suggested that evapotranspiration, which is the movement of water from the land to the atmosphere, would increase with global warming. The new research, published online this week in the journal Nature, found that's exactly what was happening from 1982 to the late 1990s. But in 1998, this significant increase in evapotranspiration – which had been seven millimeters per year – slowed dramatically or stopped. In large portions of the world, soils are now becoming drier than they used to be, releasing less water and offsetting some moisture increases elsewhere. Due to the limited number of decades for which data are available, scientists say they can't be sure whether this is a natural variability or part of a longer-lasting global change. But one possibility is that on a global level, a limit to the acceleration of the hydrological cycle on land has already been reached. If that's the case, the consequences could be serious. ..................................................................................................................... ### This study was authored by a large group of international scientists, including from OSU; lead author Martin Jung from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany; and researchers from the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland, Princeton University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, Harvard University, and other groups and agencies. The regional networks, such as AmeriFlux, CarboEurope, and the FLUXNET synthesis effort, have been supported by numerous funding agencies around the world, including the Department of Energy, NASA, National Science Foundation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States. Editor's Note: The study citation is: Jung, M., M. Reichstein, P. Ciais, S.I. Seneviratne, J. Sheffield, M.L. Goulden, G. Bonan, A. Cescatti, J. Chen, R. de Jeu, A.J. Dolman, W. Eugster, D. Gerten, D. Gianelle, N. Gobron, J. Heinke, J. Kimball, B.E. Law, L. Montagnani, Q. Mu, B. Mueller, K. Oleson, D. Papale, A.D. Richardson, O. Roupsard, S.W. Running, E. Tomelleri, N. Viovy, U. Weber, C. Williams, E. Wood, S. Zaehle, K. Zhang. 2010. A recent decline in the global land evapotranspiration trend due to limited moisture supply. Nature xxxx: xxx-xxx. DOI 10.1038/nature09396.