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Zeng, B, Yang, TB (2008). Impacts of climate warming on vegetation in Qaidam Area from 1990 to 2003. ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT, 144(3-Jan), 403-417.

The observed warming trend in the Qaidam area, an arid basin surrounded by high mountains, has caused land surface dynamics that are detectable using remotely sensed data. In this paper, we detected land-cover changes in the Qaidam Area between 1990 and 2003 in attempt to depict its spatial variability. The land-cover changes were categorized into two trends: degradation and amelioration, and their spatial patterns were examined. Then we estimated the correlation coefficients between growing-season NDVI and several climatic factors with the consideration of duration and lagging effects. The results show that the inter-annual NDVI variations are positively correlated with May to July precipitations, but not significantly correlated with sunshine duration. We observed no obvious trend in precipitation or sunshine duration from 1990 to 2003. Thus, the authors suggest that their slight fluctuations may not be responsible to the decade-scaled land- cover changes. However, our results indicate a good positive relationship between the NDVI trend and climate warming in the ameliorated areas, but a negative one in the degraded areas. By statistical analyses, we found that degradations mainly occurred at the oasis boundaries and at lower elevations in the non-oasis regions where effective soil moisture might have been reduced by the warming-caused increase in evapotranspiration. At higher elevations where thermal condition acts as a major limiting factor, ameliorations were unequivocally detected, which is attributable to the direct facilitation by temperature increases. We suggest that the impacts of the observed climate warming on vegetation are spatially heterogeneous, depending on the combinations of thermal condition and moisture availability.



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