The long-term trends (1982–2006) in vegetation greenness of the alpine ecosystem in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Abstract

The increased rate of annual temperature in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau exceeded all other areas of the same latitude in recent decades. The influence of the warming climate on the alpine ecosystem of the plateau was distinct. An analysis of alpine vegetation under changes in climatic conditions was conducted in this study. This was done through an examination of vegetation greenness and its relationship with climate variability using the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer satellite imagery and climate datasets. Vegetation in the plateau experienced a positive trend in greenness, with 18.0 % of the vegetated areas exhibiting significantly positive trends, which were primarily located in the eastern and southwestern parts of the plateau. In grasslands, 25.8 % of meadows and 14.1 % of steppes exhibited significant upward trends. In contrast, the broadleaf forests experienced a trend of degradation. Temperature, particularly summer temperature, was the primary factor promoting the vegetation growth in the plateau. The wetter and warmer climate in the east contributed to the favorable conditions for vegetation. The alpine meadow was mostly sensitive to temperature, while the steppes were sensitive to both temperature and precipitation. Although a warming climate was expected to be beneficial to vegetation growth in the alpine region, the rising temperature coupled with reduced precipitation in the south did not favor vegetation growth due to low humidity and poor soil moisture conditions.

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Acknowledgments

The study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41271372) and the International Cooperation and Exchanges NSFC (Grant No. 41120114001). The work by Lei Ji was performed under US Geological Survey contract G13PC00028. We acknowledge the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) and the GES DISC for dissemination of MERRA. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on improving the manuscript.

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Zhang, L., Guo, H., Wang, C. et al. The long-term trends (1982–2006) in vegetation greenness of the alpine ecosystem in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Environ Earth Sci 72, 1827–1841 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-014-3092-1

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • GIMMS AVHRR
  • Meadows
  • NDVI
  • Steppes