Zhang, F; Wang, CH; Wang, ZH (2020). Response of Natural Vegetation to Climate in Dryland Ecosystems: A Comparative Study between Xinjiang and Arizona. REMOTE SENSING, 12(21), 3567.

As one of the most sensitive areas to climate change, drylands cover similar to 40% of the Earth's terrestrial land surface and host more than 38% of the global population. Meanwhile, their response to climate change and variability carries large uncertainties as induced by background climate, topography, and land cover composition; but there is a lack of intercomparison of different dryland ecosystems. In this study, we compare the changing climate and corresponding responses of major natural vegetation cover types in Xinjiang and Arizona, two typical drylands with similar landscapes in Asia and North America. Long-term (2002-2019) quasi-8-day datasets of daily precipitation, daily mean temperature, and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were constructed based on station observations and remote sensing products. We found that much of Xinjiang experienced warming and wetting trends (although not co-located) over the past 18 years. In contrast, Arizona was dominated by warming with insignificant wetting or drying trends. Significant greening trends were observed in most parts of both study areas, while the increasing rate of NDVI anomalies was relatively higher in Xinjiang, jointly contributed by its colder and drier conditions. Significant degradation of vegetation growth (especially for shrubland) was observed over 18.8% of Arizona due to warming. Our results suggest that responses of similar natural vegetation types under changing climate can be diversified, as controlled by temperature and moisture in areas with different aridity.