Sensitivity of vegetation dynamics to climate variability in a forest-steppe transition ecozone, north-eastern Inner Mongolia, China
M. Altaf Arain,
Ecological Indicators, Volume 120
Abstract Climate change and land use management were competing explanations for vegetation dynamics in cold and semi-arid region of north-eastern Inner Mongolia, China. In order to reveal the role of human disturbance and clarify the regional climate-vegetation relationship, long-term (1982–2013) datasets of climate variables and vegetation dynamics in a forest-steppe transition zone of north-eastern Inner Mongolia, China were collected. Partial correlation analyses, principal components regression (PCR), and residual analyses were conducted to reveal the vegetation sensitivities to different climate variables and the impact of anthropogenic activities on climate-vegetation relationship. The results showed that. (1) Annual mean air temperature (TMP) significantly increased at a linear slope of 0.08 °C per decade, annual precipitation (PRE) had an insignificantly linear slope of −16.42 mm per decade (p = 0.15). The average Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) had a significantly negative trend over the past decades. A change point around the year 1998, coincided with the occurrence of an intense global El Nino event was also identified. (2) Regional climate change can be represented by changes in temperature, humidity and radiation. NDVI in the steppes display high sensitivity to moisture availability. Whereas, forests was influenced by the warmth index (WMI), accumulation of monthly temperature above a threshold of 5 °C. Partial correlation analyses showed that pixels of positive correlation with PRE (controlling TMP) overlap with the pixels of high partial correlation with minimum temperature (controlling maximum temperature), which suggests a hidden link between minimum temperature and PRE in this region. (3) The spatial distribution of significantly decreased NDVI overlap with cropland expansion, as well as the low residual square (R2) from PCR analysis. The NDVI decline in these expanded croplands suggests human disturbance on vegetation dynamics. Following climate warming, NDVI of forested land displayed positive trend. Whereas, most of steppe displayed negative trend, possibly resulting from combined effects of climate drying and human disturbance. We conclude that the regional climate change can be characterized as warming and drying. Steppe areas were sensitive to humidity changes while forested land was mostly influenced by growing season warmth. Overall, the regional NDVI displayed significantly negative trend over the past decades. Beyond climate drying, cropland expansion in the transition area between grassland and forested land is also an important driver for decreased NDVI. Further studies on the ecological and hydrological consequences of crop land expansion is necessary.
The United Nations (UN) has identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to tackle major barriers to sustainable development by 2030. Achieving these goals will rely on the contribution of all nations and require balancing trade-offs among different sectors. Water and food insecurity have long been the two major challenges facing China. To address these challenges and achieve the SDGs, China needs to safeguard its agricultural irrigation and water conservancy projects. Although China is making efforts to transition its agricultural development to a sustainable trajectory by promoting water-saving irrigation, a number of issues are emerging, both with policy reforms and technological innovations. Through synthesizing the historical development of agriculture and its relationship with policy and political regimes, this paper identifies four major issues that are challenging the sustainability transformation of China’s agricultural irrigation system and water conservancy projects: (1) problems with financial policy coordination between central and local governments; (2) the lack of incentives for farmers to construct and maintain irrigation infrastructure; (3) conflicts between decentralized operation of land and benefits from shared irrigation infrastructure; and (4) deterioration of small-scale irrigation infrastructure calls for action. In addressing these challenges, policy changes are required: government financial accountability at all levels needs to be clarified; subsidies need to be raised for the construction and management of small-scale irrigation and water conservancy projects; local non-profit organizations need to be established to enhance co-management between farmers and government.
Trends of actual and potential evapotranspiration based on Bouchet’s complementary concept in a cold and arid steppe site of Northeastern Asia
M. Altaf Arain,
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Volume 279
Abstract Due to complex natural water flux processes and the ambiguous explanation of Bouchet’s complementary theory, site-level investigations on evapotranspiration (ET) and related climate variables assist in understanding the regional hydrological response to climate change. In this study, site specific empirical parameters were incorporated in the Bouchet’s complementary relationship (CR) and potential and actual ET were estimated by CR method and subsequently validated by 6 years of ground-based vapor flux observations. Time series analysis, correlation analysis and principal regression analysis were conducted to reveal the characteristics of climate change and the controlling factor(s) of the variations of potential ET and actual ET. The results show that this region is exhibiting a combined warming and drying trend over the past decades with two change points that occurred in 1993 and in 2000. Potential ET was predominantly influenced by temperature and vapor pressure deficit, while actual ET was mostly influenced by vegetation activity. Potential ET was found to be increasing concurrently with declining actual ET to constitute nearly a symmetric complementary relationship over the past decades. This study help to enhance our understanding of the regional hydrological response to climate change. Further studies are needed to partition the actual ET into transpiration and other components and to reveal the role of vegetation activity in determining regional ET as well as water balance.