Understanding how terrestrial ecosystems would respond to future climate change can substantially contribute to scientific evaluation of the interactions between vegetation and climate. To reveal the future climate impacts might on the nature and magnitude of global vegetation, the spatiotemporal distribution and net primary productivity (NPP) of global terrestrial biomes and their dynamics in this century were quantitatively simulated and compared by using the improved Comprehensive and Sequential Classification System and the segmentation model. The 33 general circulation models under the four scenarios of Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) were utilized to simulate the future climate change. The multi-model ensemble results showed that at the global scale, the distribution of forests and deserts would expand by more than 2% and 4% over this century, respectively. By contrast, more than 11% of grassland regions would shrink. Despite the considerable differences in the simulated responses of the biomes, the poleward movement or expansion of temperate forest were prominent features across all the scenarios. Meanwhile, the terrestrial NPP was projected to increase by 7.44, 9.51, 9.46, and 12.02 Pg DW·a− 1 in 2070s relative to 1970s in the RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5, respectively. The largest NPP decrease would occur in tundra & alpine steppe. NPP in the Tropical Zone, the North Temperate Zone, and the North Frigid Zone was estimated to increase in this century, whereas NPP in the South Temperate Zone was projected to decrease slightly across all scenarios. Overall, ecosystems in the mid-/high latitudes would be more vulnerable to future climate change in terms of distribution ranges and primary productivity despite the existing uncertainties. Some vegetation would benefit from the warmer and wetter climate. However, most of these plants would suffer and experience irreversible changes, particularly in the northern hemisphere.