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Journal of Arid Land  2020, Vol. 12 Issue (1): 58-72    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0124-4
Research article     
Change features of time-series climate variables from 1962 to 2016 in Inner Mongolia, China
XU Lili1,2,*(), YU Guangming1,2, ZHANG Wenjie3,4, TU Zhenfa1,2, TAN Wenxia1,2
1 Key Laboratory for Geographical Process Analysis & Simulation of Hubei Province, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China;
2 College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
3 State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Beijing 100101, China
4 Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster (C3), University of Technology Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
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Detecting change features of climate variables in arid/semi-arid areas is essential for understanding related climate change patterns and the driving and evolution mechanism between climate and arid/semi-arid ecosystems. This paper takes Inner Mongolia of China, a unique arid/semi-arid ecosystem, as the study area. We first detected trend features of climate variables using the linear trend analysis method and then detected their trend-shift features using the breaks for additive seasonal and trend method based on the time-series of monthly precipitation and monthly mean temperature datasets from 1962 to 2016. We analyzed the different change features of precipitation and temperature on a regional scale and in different ecological zones to discover the spatial heterogeneity of change features. The results showed that Inner Mongolia has become warmer-wetter during the past 54 years. The regional annual mean temperature increased 0.4°C per decade with a change rate of 56.2%. The regional annual precipitation increased 0.07 mm per decade with a slightly change rate of about 1.7%, but the trend was not statistically significant. The warmer trend was contributed by the same positive trend in each season, while the wetter trend was contributed by the negative trend of the summer precipitation and the positive trend of the other three seasons. The regional monthly precipitation series had a trend-shift pattern with a structural breakpoint in the year 1999, while the regional monthly mean temperature series showed an increasing trend without a periodical trend-shift. After the year 2000, the warmer-wetter trend of the climate in Inner Mongolia was accelerated. The late 20th century was a key period, because the acceleration of the wetter trend in some local zones (I and II) and the alleviation of the warmer trend in some local zones (VII, VIII and IX) occurred simultaneously. Moreover, the change features had a strong spatial heterogeneity, the southeastern and southwestern of Inner Mongolia went through a warmer-drier trend compared with the other areas. The spatio-temporal heterogeneity of the climate change features is a necessary background for various types of research, such as regional climate change, the evolution of arid/semi-arid ecosystems, and the interaction mechanisms between climate and arid/semi-arid ecosystems based on earth-system models in Inner Mongolia.

Key wordstemperature      precipitation      trend feature      trend-shift feature      arid/semi-arid area     
Received: 08 April 2018      Published: 10 February 2020
Corresponding Authors: Lili XU     E-mail:
About author: *Corresponding author: XU Lili (E-mail:
Cite this article:

XU Lili, YU Guangming, ZHANG Wenjie, TU Zhenfa, TAN Wenxia. Change features of time-series climate variables from 1962 to 2016 in Inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(1): 58-72.

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Fig. 1 Distributions of the 11 ecological zones (I-XI) and the 46 meteorological stations (1-46)
Ecological zone Areas Characteristic Meteorological station code
Landscape Vegetation
I Da Hinggan Mountains Grassland Quercus mongolica 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 31
II Hulun Buir Plateau Central Mongolian Plateau, steppe Stipa krylovii, Cleistogenes caespitosa 4, 5, 8, 9
III Songliao Plain Grassland Ulmus pumila 13, 17, 19, 23
IV Xilingol Plateau Hunshandak sandy land, grassland Ulmus pumila 14, 15, 16, 18, 20
V West Liaohe River Plain Alluvial plain, irrigated agricultural area Crops: corn and wheat 24, 25, 26, 29, 30
VI Ulanqab Plateau Red sand, steppe desert Stipa glareosa 21, 22, 27, 28, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37
VII&VIII Yinshan Mountains, Hetao-Tumochuan Plain Alluvial plain, irrigated agricultural area, steppe Crops: wheat, rice and cereal 38, 39, 40
IX Ordos Plateau Steppe desert Cistus ladanifer 42, 45
X Bayannur-Alagxa High Plain Gobi, desert Ephedra 41, 43, 44, 46
XI Lower reaches of Heihe River Oasis Alluvial plain, oasis Populus diversifolia forest 32
Table 1 Meteorological stations in different ecological zones
Fig. 2 Trend feature of the annual precipitation series and annual mean temperature series on a regional scale (left-top) and in different ecological zones from 1962 to 2015
Fig. 3 Anomaly analysis of the annual precipitation series (a) and annual mean temperature series (b) on a regional scale from 1962 to 2015. The gray dotted lines in each bar chart denote a deviation from the mean value for the period.
Ecological zone Changes of annual precipitation series per decade Changes of annual mean temperature series per decade
(%) (mm) (%) (°C)
I 11.38 0.76 153.62 0.36
II 2.37 0.11 177.35 0.36
III -0.46 -0.03 46.58 0.39
IV -0.41 -0.02 406.10 0.41
V -11.21 -0.66 23.66 0.27
VI 1.40 0.05 72.62 0.42
VII, VIII 6.66 0.28 45.17 0.50
IX -0.47 -0.02 44.15 0.45
X 19.09 0.36 26.67 0.37
XI -18.34 -0.10 34.17 0.49
Inner Mongolia 1.72 0.07 56.16 0.40
Table 2 Trend features of the annual precipitation series and annual mean temperature series in different ecological zones
Fig. 4 Seasonal trend features of regional accumulated precipitation series (a-d) and seasonal accumulated temperature series (e-f) series in different seasons during 1962-2015
Fig. 5 Trend-shift features in the monthly precipitation series (a) and monthly mean temperature series (b) from 1962 to 2016. Green lines denote piecewise trends during the study period, the red line denotes the magnitude of the structural breakpoints, and the blue line represents the confidence interval of the detected breakpoints. Time of BP(s) 448 means the 448th point in the time series is detected to be the break point.
Ecological zone Monthly precipitation series Monthly mean temperature series
I 1999↑-↑ -
II 1999↑-↑ -
III - -
IV - -
V - -
VI - -
VII, VIII - 1996↑+↑
IX - 1996↑+↑
X - -
Table 3 Trend-shift features in different ecological zones
Fig. 6 Trend-shift of monthly precipitation series in zone I (a) and monthly mean temperature series in the zones of VII and VIII (b). Yt, the original time-series datasets; St, the seasonal component; Tt, the trend component; and et, the residual component.
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