In recent years, there has been increasing research interests in differentiating the relative importance of climate factors and human activities in impacting vegetation dynamics. In this study, based on residual trend method, we used MOD13A3 (MODIS vegetation index product), MCD12Q1 (MODIS land cover product) and meteorological datasets to differentiate the relative importance of climate factors and human activities in impacting vegetation dynamics during 2000–2015 in the Otindag Sandy Land, northern China. Results show that during the study period (2000–2015), the overall vegetation condition had improved in the Otindag Sandy Land. The driving forces of vegetation dynamics differed spatially in the whole study area over the study period. The area with vegetation degradation solely resulted from human activities accounted for 8.23% of the study area, while the area with vegetation degradation resulted from others (including climate factors and combination of climate factors and human activities) occupied 1.53%. The area with vegetation recovery benefitted from human activities occurred over 26.02% of the study area; the area benefitted from climate factors accounted for 23.69%; and the area benefitted from both climate factors and human activities occupied 37.74%. All in all, impacts of climate factors and human activities on vegetation dynamics varied at the county/city/banner scales and locality-specific measures should be adopted to protect the environments.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Boer M M, Puigdefábregas J. 2003. Predicting potential vegetation index values as a reference for the assessment and monitoring of dryland condition. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 24(5): 1135–1141.
Chuai X W, Huang X J, Wang W J, et al. 2013. NDVI, temperature and precipitation changes and their relationships with different vegetation types during 1998–2007 in Inner Mongolia, China. International Journal of Climatology, 33(7): 1696–1706.
Dong J W, Liu J Y, Yan H M, et al. 2011. Spatio-temporal pattern and rationality of land reclamation and cropland abandonment in mid–eastern Inner Mongolia of China in 1990–2005. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 179(1–4): 137–153.
Dong X B, Dai G S, Ulgiati S, et al. 2015. On the relationship between economic development, environmental integrity and well-being: the point of view of herdsmen in northern China grassland. PLoS ONE, 10(9): e0134786, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134786.
Eckert S, Hüsler F, Liniger H, et al. 2015. Trend analysis of MODIS NDVI time series for detecting land degradation and regeneration in Mongolia. Journal of Arid Environments, 113: 16–28.
Evans J, Geerken R. 2004. Discrimination between climate and human-induced dryland degradation. Journal of Arid Environments, 57(4): 535–554.
Fensholt R, Rasmussen K. 2011. Analysis of trends in the Sahelian ‘rain-use efficiency’ using GIMMS NDVI, RFE and GPCP rainfall data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115(2): 438–451.
Götze C, Beyer F, Gläßer C. 2016. Pioneer vegetation as an indicator of the geochemical parameters in abandoned mine sites using hyperspectral airborne data. Environmental Earth Sciences, 75(7): 613. doi: 10.1007/s12665-016-5367-1.
Guo Q, Hu Z M, Li S G, et al. 2012. Spatial variations in aboveground net primary productivity along a climate gradient in Eurasian temperate grassland: effects of mean annual precipitation and its seasonal distribution. Global Change Biology, 18(12): 3624–3631.
He C Y, Tian J, Gao B, et al. 2015. Differentiating climate- and human-induced drivers of grassland degradation in the Liao River Basin, China. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 187(1): 4199, doi: 10.1007/s10661-014-4199-2.
Kang X W, Wu S H, Liu X H. 2009. Research on spatio-temporal change of sandy desertification in Hunshandake. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 23(1): 1–6. (in Chinese)
Li A, Wu J G, Huang J H. 2012. Distinguishing between human-induced and climate-driven vegetation changes: a critical application of RESTREND in Inner Mongolia. Landscape Ecology, 27(7): 969–982.
Lin Y, Han G D, Zhao M L, et al. 2010. Spatial vegetation patterns as early signs of desertification: a case study of a desert steppe in Inner Mongolia, China. Landscape Ecology, 25(10): 1519–1527.
Liu H J, Zhou C H, Cheng W M, et al. 2008. Monitoring sandy desertification of Otindag Sandy Land based on multi-date remote sensing images. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 28(2): 627–635.
Liu S L, Wang T. 2007. Aeolian desertification from the mid-1970s to 2005 in Otindag Sandy Land, Northern China. Environmental Geology, 51(6): 1057–1064.
Liu X F, Zhu X F, Pan Y Z, et al. 2016. Vegetation dynamics in Qinling-Daba Mountains in relation to climate factors between 2000 and 2014. Journal of Geographical Sciences 26(1): 45–58.
Lu H, Wang S S, Zhou Q W, et al. 2013. Damage and control of major poisonous plants in the western grasslands of China–a review. The Rangeland Journal, 34(4): 329–339.
Mansour K, Mutanga O, Everson T, et al. 2012. Discriminating indicator grass species for rangeland degradation assessment using hyperspectral data resampled to AISA Eagle resolution. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 70: 56–65.
Miao L J, Moore J C, Zeng F J, et al. 2015. Footprint of research in desertification management in China. Land Degradation & Development, 26(5): 450–457.
Mirzabaev A, Ahmed M, Werner J, et al. 2016. Rangelands of Central Asia: challenges and opportunities. Journal of Arid Land, 8(1): 93–108.
Peng S S, Chen A P, Xu L, et al. 2011. Recent change of vegetation growth trend in China. Environmental Research Letters, 6(4): 044027, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044027.
Qin D H. 2014. Climate change science and sustainable development. Progress in Geography, 33(7): 874–883. (in Chinese)
Seaquist J W, Hickler T, Eklundh L, et al. 2008. Disentangling the effects of climate and people on Sahel vegetation dynamics. Biogeosciences Discussions, 5(4): 3045–3067.
Sun J G, Ai T H, Wang P, et al. 2008. Assessing vegetation degradation based on NDVI-climate variables feature space. Geomatics and Information Science of Wuhan University, 33(6): 573–576. (in Chinese)
Sun Y L, Guo P, Yan X D, et al. 2010. Dynamics of vegetation cover and its relationship with climate change and human activities in Inner Mongolia. Journal of Natural Resources, 25(3): 407–414. (in Chinese)
Wang F, Pan X B, Wang D F, et al. 2013. Combating desertification in China: past, present and future. Land Use Policy, 31: 311–313.
Wang T, Zhu Z D, Wu W. 2002. Sandy desertification in the North of China. Science in China, 45(Suppl.): 23–34.
Wang T, Sun J G, Han H, et al. 2012. The relative role of climate change and human activities in the desertification process in Yulin region of northwest China. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184(12): 7165–7173.
Wang X M, Chen F H, Dong Z B. 2006. The relative role of climatic and human factors in desertification in semiarid China. Global Environmental Change, 16(1): 48–57.
Wang X M, Chen F H, Hasi E, et al. 2008. Desertification in China: an assessment. Earth-Science Reviews, 88(3–4): 188–206.
Wessels K J, Prince S D, Malherbe J, et al. 2007. Can human-induced land degradation be distinguished from the effects of rainfall variability? A case study in South Africa. Journal of Arid Environments, 68(2): 271–297.
Xu D Y, Kang X W, Liu Z L, et al. 2009. Assessing the relative role of climate change and human activities in sandy desertification of Ordos region, China. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences, 52(6): 855–868.
Xu D Y, Li C L, Zhuang D F, et al. 2011. Assessment of the relative role of climate change and human activities in desertification: a review. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 21(5): 926–936.
Xu X, Li X B, Liang H W, et al. 2010. Change in vegetation coverage and its relationships with climatic factors in temperate steppe, Inner Mongolia. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 30(14): 3733–3743. (in Chinese)
Xue Z J, Qin Z D, Li H J, et al. 2013. Evaluation of aeolian desertification from 1975 to 2010 and its causes in northwest Shanxi Province, China. Global and Planetary Change, 107: 102–108.
Yang X, Zhang K, Jia B, et al. 2005. Desertification assessment in China: an overview. Journal of Arid Environments, 63(2): 517–531.
Yang X, Ding Z, Fan X, et al. 2007. Processes and mechanisms of desertification in northern China during the last 30 years, with a special reference to the Hunshandake Sandy Land, eastern Inner Mongolia. CATENA, 71(1): 2–12.
Zhang J Y, Wang Y, Zhao X, et al. 2005. Grassland recovery by protection from grazing in a semi-arid sandy region of northern China. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 48(2): 277–284.
Zhang Y Z, Chen Z Y, Zhu B Q, et al. 2008. Land desertification monitoring and assessment in Yulin of Northwest China using remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS). Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 147(1–3): 327–337.
Zheng Y R, Xie Z X, Robert C, et al. 2006. Did climate drive ecosystem change and induce desertification in Otindag sandy land, China over the past 40 years? Journal of Arid Environments, 64(3): 523–541.
Zhou W, Gang C C, Zhou F C, et al. 2015. Quantitative assessment of the individual contribution of climate and human factors to desertification in northwest China using net primary productivity as an indicator. Ecological Indicators, 48: 560–569.
Zhu Z D. 1991. Fragile ecological zones and land desertification in China. Journal of Desert Research, 11(4): 11–22. (in Chinese)
Zhu Z D, Wang T. 1992. Theory and practice on sandy desertification in China. Quaternary Sciences, 12(2): 97–106. (in Chinese)
This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFA0601900) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41401006).
About this article
Cite this article
Ma, W., Wang, X., Zhou, N. et al. Relative importance of climate factors and human activities in impacting vegetation dynamics during 2000–2015 in the Otindag Sandy Land, northern China. J. Arid Land 9, 558–567 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-017-0062-y
- climate factors
- human factors
- Otindag Sandy Land