Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 844–856 | Cite as

Driving force and changing trends of vegetation phenology in the Loess Plateau of China from 2000 to 2010

  • Hao Wang
  • Guo-hua LiuEmail author
  • Zong-shan Li
  • Xin Ye
  • Meng Wang
  • Li Gong


Changes in vegetation phenology are key indicators of the response of ecosystems to climate change. Therefore, knowledge of growing seasons is essential to predict ecosystem changes, especially for regions with a fragile ecosystem such as the Loess Plateau. In this study, based on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data, we estimated and analyzed the vegetation phenology in the Loess Plateau from 2000 to 2010 for the beginning, length, and end of the growing season, measuring changes in trends and their relationship to climatic factors. The results show that for 54.84% of the vegetation, the trend was an advancement of the beginning of the growing season (BGS), while for 67.64% the trend was a delay in the end of the growing season (EGS). The length of the growing season (LGS) was extended for 66.28% of the vegetation in the plateau. While the temperature is important for the vegetation to begin the growing season in this region, warmer climate may lead to drought and can become a limiting factor for vegetation growth. We found that increased precipitation benefits the advancement of the BGS in this area. Areas with a delayed EGS indicated that the appropriate temperature and rainfall in autumn or winter enhanced photosynthesis and extended the growth process. A positive correlation with precipitation was found for 76.53% of the areas with an extended LGS, indicating that precipitation is one of the key factors in changes in the vegetation phenology in this water-limited region. Precipitation plays an important role in determining the phenological activities of the vegetation in arid and semiarid areas, such as the Loess Plateau. The extended growing season will significantly influence both the vegetation productivity and the carbon fixation capacity in this region.


The Loess Plateau Trend analysis Phenology NDVI Vegetation green-up date 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hao Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guo-hua Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zong-shan Li
    • 1
  • Xin Ye
    • 1
    • 2
  • Meng Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Li Gong
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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