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Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (4): 556-568    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-016-0046-3
Research Articles     
Spatial-temporal dynamics of desert vegetation and its responses to climatic variations over the last three decades: a case study of Hexi region in Northwest China
YANG Xuemei1,2, LIU Shizeng1*, YANG Taibao2, XU Xianying1, KANG Caizhou1, TANG Jinnian1, WEI Huaidong1, Mihretab G GHEBREZGABHER2,3, LI Zhiqi4
1 State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Desertification and Aeolian Sand Disaster Combating, Gansu Desert Control Research Institute, Lanzhou 730070, China;
2 Institute of Glaciology and Ecogeography, College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China;
3 Eritrea Institute of Technology, College of Education, Mai-Nefhi 12676, Eritrea;
4 Wuwei Natural Protection Station, the Management Bureau of Gansu Qilianshan National Nature Reserve, Wuwei 733000, China
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Abstract  Analysis of spatial-temporal variations of desert vegetation under the background of climate changes can provide references for ecological restoration in arid and semi-arid areas. In this study, we used the Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) NDVI data from 1982 to 2006 and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) NDVI data from 2000 to 2013 to reveal the dynamics of desert vegetation in Hexi region of Northwest China over the past three decades. We also used the annual temperature and precipitation data acquired from the Chinese meteorological stations to analyze the response of desert vegetation to climatic variations. The average value of NDVImax (the maximum NDVI during the growing season) for desert vegetation in Hexi region increased at the rate of 0.65×10–3/a (P<0.05) from 1982 to 2013, and the significant increases of NDVImax mainly appeared in the typical desert vegetation areas. Vegetation was significantly improved in the lower reaches of Shule and Shiyang river basins, and the weighted mean center of desert vegetation mainly shifted toward the lower reaches of the two basins. Almost 95.32% of the total desert vegetation area showed positive correlation between NDVImax and annual precipitation, indicating that precipitation is the key factor for desert vegetation growth in the entire study area. Moreover, the areas with non-significant positive correlation between NDVImax and annual precipitation mainly located in the lower reaches of Shiyang and Shule river basins, this may be due to human activities. Only 7.64% of the desert vegetation showed significant positive correlation between NDVImax and annual precipitation in the Shule River Basin (an extremely arid area), indicating that precipitation is not the most important factor for vegetation growth in this basin, and further studies are needed to investigate the mechanism for this phenomenon.

Key wordsUrumqi Glacier No. 1      snowpack      meltwater      air temperature      precipitation     
Received: 04 August 2015      Published: 10 August 2016

The Opening Foundation of the State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Desertification and Aeolian Sand Disaster Combating, Gansu Desert Control Research Institute (GSDC201503), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41271024, 31260129, 31360204) and the Program for Innovative Research Group of Gansu Province, China (1506RJIA155).

Corresponding Authors: LIU Shizeng     E-mail:;
Cite this article:

YANG Xuemei, LIU Shizeng, YANG Taibao, XU Xianying, KANG Caizhou, TANG Jinnian, WEI Huaidong, Mihretab G GHEBREZGABHER, LI Zhiqi. Spatial-temporal dynamics of desert vegetation and its responses to climatic variations over the last three decades: a case study of Hexi region in Northwest China. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(4): 556-568.

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