Quantification of human contribution to soil moisture-based terrestrial aridity

Wang, Yaoping ; Mao, Jiafu ; Hoffman, Forrest M. ; Bonfils, Céline J. W. ; Douville, Hervé ; Jin, Mingzhou ; Thornton, Peter E. ; Ricciuto, Daniel M. ; Shi, Xiaoying ; Chen, Haishan ; Wullschleger, Stan D. ; Piao, Shilong ; Dai, Yongjiu

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<p align=justify>Current knowledge of the spatiotemporal patterns of changes in soil moisture-based terrestrial aridity has considerable uncertainty. Using Standardized Soil Moisture Index (SSI) calculated from multi-source merged data sets, we find widespread drying in the global midlatitudes, and wetting in the northern subtropics and in spring between 45°N-65°N, during 1971-2016. Formal detection and attribution analysis shows that human forcings, especially greenhouse gases, contribute significantly to the changes in 0-10 cm SSI during August-November, and 0-100 cm during September-April. We further develop and apply an emergent constraint method on the future SSI's signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios and trends under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathway 5-8.5. The results show continued significant presence of human forcings and more rapid drying in 0-10 cm than 0-100 cm. Our findings highlight the predominant human contributions to spatiotemporally heterogenous terrestrial aridification, providing a basis for drought and flood risk management.</p>
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