Document Type


Publication Title

Geophysical Research Letters

Publication Date



The associated article for this dataset is currently under review.

It has been suggested that hillslope topography can promote the persistence of hydrologic refugia, sites where ecosystem net primary productivity is relatively insensitive to climate variation. However, the mechanisms that promote the persistence of these locations and their spatial distributions are poorly resolved. We quantified the response of ecosystem NPP to variability in the annual climatic water balance for 30 years across the western U.S. The slope of this pixel-specific linear regression represents ecosystem-climate sensitivity and provides a means to identify ecosystems that are buffered from droughts. Environmental conditions produced by hillslope convergence significantly reduced ecosystem sensitivity to climate fluctuations across the entirety of the western U.S. We observed the greatest topographic effect in semi-arid climates, while vulnerability to drought was maximized in flat, arid landscapes. In aggregate, spatial patterns of ecosystem sensitivity can be implemented for regional planning to maximize conservation in landscapes that are more resistant to perturbations.

Geographic location: Western U.S., all data is in Albers Equal Area Projection; Datum NAD83; 30.37591m resolution

Associated data and attachments can be found at:

(In addition, File #1 is available via the Download button above, and Files #2 and #3 are available below.):

1.) Mean annual climatic water deficit (potential evapotranspiration - actual evapotranspiration) for 1986-2015, more information available at: Holden, Z. A., Jolly, W. M., Swanson, A., Warren, D. A., Jencso, K., Maneta, M., ... & Landguth, E. L. (2019). TOPOFIRE: A topographically resolved wildfire danger and drought monitoring system for the conterminous United States. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, (2019). [Deficit_30m_Masked.tif]

2.) The topographic position index calcaulted using a 1000m radius, more information available at Weiss, A. (2001, July). Topographic position and landforms analysis. In Poster presentation, ESRI user conference, San Diego, CA (Vol. 200). [TPI_30m_1000m_Radius_Masked.tif]

3.) The standardized slope (ecosystem sensitivity) of the NPP ~ Deficit regressions, more information available in the article in review.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.