Montane ecosystem productivity responds more to global circulation patterns than climatic trends
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Regional ecosystem productivity is highly sensitive to inter-annual climate variability, both within and outside the primary carbon uptake period. However, Earth system models lack sufficient spatial scales and ecosystem processes to resolve how these processes may change in a warming climate. Here, we show, how for the European Alps, mid-latitude Atlantic ocean winter circulation anomalies drive high-altitude summer forest and grassland productivity, through feedbacks among orographic wind circulation patterns, snowfall, winter and spring temperatures, and vegetation activity. Therefore, to understand future global climate change influence to regional ecosystem productivity, Earth systems models need to focus on improvements towards topographic downscaling of changes in regional atmospheric circulation patterns and to lagged responses in vegetation dynamics to non-growing season climate anomalies.