, Volume 56, Issue 9, pp 900-905,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 26 Mar 2011

Vegetation effects on mean daily maximum and minimum surface air temperatures over China


Changes in the daily maximum (T max) and minimum (T min) surface air temperatures and the associated temperature extremes have severe consequences on human society and the natural environment. In this study, we assess vegetation effects on mean T max and T min over China by computing a vegetation feedback parameter using the satellite-sensed Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and observed temperatures for the period 1982–2002. In all seasons, vegetation exerts a much stronger forcing on T max than on T min, and thus has a substantial effect on the diurnal temperature range (DTR) over China. Significant positive feedbacks on T max and the DTR occupy many areas of China with the feedback parameters exceeding 1°C (0.1 NDVI)−1, while significant negative effects only appear over the summertime climatic and ecological transition zone of northern China and some other isolated areas. Also, the vegetation feedbacks are found to vary with season. In areas where significant feedbacks occur, vegetation contributes to typically 10%–30% of the total variances in T max, T min, and the DTR. These findings suggest that vegetation memory offers the potential for improving monthly-to-seasonal forecasting of T max and T min, and the associated temperature extremes over China. Meanwhile, the limitations and uncertainties of the study should be recognized.

These authors contributed equally to the work.
This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com