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Journal of Arid Land  2015, Vol. 7 Issue (2): 251-263    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0042-4
Research Articles     
Effects of climate change on phenology and primary productivity in the desert steppe of Inner Mongolia
Fang HAN1,2, Qing ZHANG1,3, Alexander BUYANTUEV4, JianMing NIU1,3, PengTao LIU1,2, XingHua LI2, Sarula KANG1, Jing ZHANG1,ChangMing CHANG1, YunPeng LI2
1 School of Life Sciences, Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot 010021, China;
2 Meteorological Bureau of Inner Mongolian, Hohhot 010051, China;
3 Sino-US Center for Conservation, Energy and Sustainability Science in Inner Mongolia (SUCCESS), Hohhot 010021, China;
4 Department of Geography and Planning, the State University of New York, NY 12222, USA
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Abstract  Variations in temperature and precipitation affect local ecosystems. Considerable spatial and temporal heterogeneity exists in arid ecosystems such as desert steppes. We analyzed the spatiotemporal dynamics of climate and vegetation phenology in the desert steppe of Inner Mongolia, China, using meteorological data from 11 stations (1961–2010) and phenology data from 6 ecological stations (2004–2012). We also estimated the gross primary production for the period of 1982–2009 and found that the annual mean temperature increased at a rate of 0.47ºC/decade during 1961–2010, with the last 10 years being consistently warmer than the 50-year mean. The most significant warming occurred in winters. Annual precipitation slightly decreased during the 50-year period, with summer precipitation experiencing the highest drop in the last 10 years, and spring precipitation, a rise. Spatially, annual precipitation increased significantly in the northeast and eastern central area of the region next to the typical steppe. From 2004 to 2012, vegetation green-up and senescence date advanced in the area, shortening the growing season. Consequently, the primary productivity of the desert steppe decreased along precipitation gradient from southeast to northwest. Temporally, productivity increased during the period of 1982–1999 and significantly decreased after 2000. Overall, the last decade witnessed the most dramatic climatic changes that were likely to negatively affect the desert steppe ecosystem. The decreased primary productivity, in particular, decreases ecosystem resilience and impairs the livelihood of local farmers and herdsmen.

Key wordssoil respiration      abiotic exchange      hypothetical system      incorporated model;missing carbon sink     
Received: 24 February 2014      Published: 10 April 2015

The study was supported by the State Key Basic Research Development Program of China (2012CB722201), the National Basic Research Program of China (31200414, 31060320 and 30970504), the National Basic Research Program of Inner Mongolia (2009ms0603) and the Earmarked Fund for Modern Agro-Industry Technology Research System.

Corresponding Authors: JianMing NIU     E-mail:
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Fang HAN, Qing ZHANG, Alexander BUYANTUEV, JianMing NIU, PengTao LIU, XingHua LI, Sarula KANG, Jing ZHANG,ChangMing CHANG, YunPeng LI. Effects of climate change on phenology and primary productivity in the desert steppe of Inner Mongolia. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(2): 251-263.

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