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Journal of Arid Land  2020, Vol. 12 Issue (2): 294-302    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0021-x
Research article     
Snow resisting capacity of Caragana microphylla and Achnatherum splendens in a typical steppe region of Inner Mongolia, China
YAN Min1, ZUO Hejun1,*(), WANG Haibing1, DONG Zhi2, LI Gangtie1
1 Key Laboratory of Aeolian Physics and Desertification Control Engineering, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, College of Desert Control Science and Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot 010018, China
2 Forestry College, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai'an 271018, China
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Snow resisting capacity of vegetation is important for secondary distribution of water resources in seasonal snow areas of grassland because it affects the regeneration, growth and nutrient circulation of vegetation in grassland. This study investigated vegetation characteristics (canopy height, canopy length and crown width) of Caragana microphylla Lam. (shrub) and Achnatherum splendens (Trin.) Nevski. (herb), and snow morphologies (snow depth, snow width and snow braid length) in a typical steppe region of Inner Mongolia, China in 2017. And the influence of vegetation characteristic on snow resisting capacity (the indices of bottom area of snow and snow volume reflect snow resisting capacity) was analyzed. The results showed that snow morphology depends on vegetation characteristics of shrub and herb. The canopy height was found to have the greatest influence on snow depth and the crown width had the greatest influence on snow width. The canopy length was found to have little influence on morphological parameters of snow. When the windward areas of C. microphylla and A. splendens were within the ranges of 0.0-0.5 m2 and 0.0-8.0 m2, respectively, the variation of snow cover was large; however, beyond these areas, the variation of snow cover became gradually stable. The potential area of snow retardation for a single plant was 1.5-2.5 m2 and the amount of snow resistance was 0.15-0.20 m3. The bottom area of snow and snow volume (i.e., snow resisting capacity) of clumped C. microphylla and A. splendens was found to be 4 and 25 times that of individual plant, respectively. The results could provide a theoretical basis both for the estimation of snow cover and the establishment of a plant-based technical system for the control of windblown snow in the typical steppe region of Inner Mongolia.

Key wordsherb      shrub      snow cover      snow resisting capacity      field observation      steppe     
Received: 21 November 2018      Published: 10 March 2020
Corresponding Authors: Hejun ZUO     E-mail:
About author: *Corresponding author: ZUO Hejun (E-mail:
Cite this article:

YAN Min, ZUO Hejun, WANG Haibing, DONG Zhi, LI Gangtie. Snow resisting capacity of Caragana microphylla and Achnatherum splendens in a typical steppe region of Inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(2): 294-302.

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Fig. 1 Distribution of shrub (Caragana microphylla) and herb (Achnatherum splendens) in Xilin Gol League, Inner Mongolia, China
Fig. 2 Meteorological data on 1-31 January 2017 and observational period of the study
Fig. 3 Examples of the experimental conditions. (a) and (f) show the field observations of snow morphology and characteristics of shrub and herb; (b) and (c) show the snow morphology of a single plant (b, Caragana microphylla; c, Achnatherum splendens); (d) two A. splendens plants side by side (type A); (g) three A. splendens plants side by side (type B), (e) one A. splendens is in former and two A. splendens plants at the back (type C); and (h) crumby and loose distribution of A. splendens (type D). Hp, canopy height; Wp, crown width; P, canopy length; H, snow depth; W, snow width; L, snow braid length.
Fig. 4 Relationships of snow morphologies with the characteristics of shrub (Caragana microphylla, black and solid line) and herb (Achnatherum splendens, grey and dashed line). Hp, canopy height; Wp, crown width; P, canopy length; H, snow depth; W, snow width; L, snow braid length.
Hp (m) Wp (m) P (m) H (m) W (m) L (m) Sp (m2) S (m2) V (m3)
Single plant (Small) 0.19±0.11 0.20±0.10 0.14±0.12 0.08±0.03 0.27±0.10 0.66±0.28 0.28±0.11 0.32±0.18 0.02±0.01
Single plant (Medium) 0.90±0.27 0.72±0.21 0.80±0.16 0.20±0.07 0.73±0.20 1.80±0.38 0.56±0.20 1.27±0.52 0.07±0.03
Single plant
1.60±0.24 1.34±0.17 1.27±0.19 0.39±0.05 1.36±0.27 2.73±0.27 1.70±0.84 1.85±0.36 0.16±0.02
Type A 1.59±0.29 2.13±0.78 1.68±0.35 0.46±0.20 2.31±0.76 6.78±2.85 3.77±2.03 3.15±0.38 1.00±0.45
Type B 1.68±0.05 3.82±0.94 1.83±0.65 0.44±0.15 4.03±0.20 8.47±0.81 7.37±4.36 8.13±1.21 3.32±0.08
Type C 1.53±0.58 2.27±0.38 2.18±0.35 0.43±0.08 2.28±0.03 6.72±0.73 4.98±1.26 6.23±0.94 1.33±0.22
Type D 1.52±0.48 3.25±1.28 2.95±0.74 0.65±0.22 3.15±0.82 7.95±1.92 9.86±5.39 7.74±0.93 4.04±0.80
Table 1 Snow morphologies in different individual and grouped vegetation types
Fig. 5 Relationship between bottom area of snow and windward area (Hp×Wp) of Achnatherum splendens (a) and Caragana microphylla (b). Big oval and small oval mean rapid increase and slow increase in bottom area of snow, respectively. Trend line of bottom area of snow is shown. Hp, canopy height; Wp, crown width.
Fig. 6 Relationship between snow volume and vegetation volume of Achnatherum splendens (a) and Caragana microphylla (b). Big oval and small oval mean rapid increase and slow increase in snow volume, respectively.
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