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Development of a large-scale remote sensing ecological index in arid areas and its application in the Aral Sea Basin
WANG Jie, LIU Dongwei, MA Jiali, CHENG Yingnan, WANG Lixin
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (1): 40-55.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0052-y
Abstract57)   HTML14)    PDF(pc) (945KB)(477)       Save

The Aral Sea Basin in Central Asia is an important geographical environment unit in the center of Eurasia. It is of great significance to the ecological protection and sustainable development of Central Asia to carry out dynamic monitoring and effective evaluation of the eco-environmental quality of the Aral Sea Basin. In this study, the arid remote sensing ecological index (ARSEI) for large-scale arid areas was developed, which coupled the information of the greenness index, the salinity index, the humidity index, the heat index, and the land degradation index of arid areas. The ARSEI was used to monitor and evaluate the eco-environmental quality of the Aral Sea Basin from 2000 to 2019. The results show that the greenness index, the humidity index and the land degradation index had a positive impact on the quality of the ecological environment in the Aral Sea Basin, while the salinity index and the heat index exerted a negative impact on the quality of the ecological environment. The eco-environmental quality of the Aral Sea Basin demonstrated a trend of initial improvement, followed by deterioration, and finally further improvement. The spatial variation of these changes was significant. From 2000 to 2019, grassland and wasteland (saline alkali land and sandy land) in the central and western parts of the basin had the worst ecological environment quality. The areas with poor ecological environment quality are mainly distributed in rivers, wetlands, and cultivated land around lakes. During the period from 2000 to 2019, except for the surrounding areas of the Aral Sea, the ecological environment quality in other areas of the Aral Sea Basin has been improved in general. The correlation coefficients between the change in the eco-environmental quality and the heat index and between the change in the eco-environmental quality and the humidity index were -0.593 and 0.524, respectively. Climate conditions and human activities have led to different combinations of heat and humidity changes in the eco-environmental quality of the Aral Sea Basin. However, human activities had a greater impact. The ARSEI can quantitatively and intuitively reflect the scale and causes of large-scale and long-time period changes of the eco-environmental quality in arid areas; it is very suitable for the study of the eco-environmental quality in arid areas.

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Seasonal changes in the water-use strategies of three herbaceous species in a native desert steppe of Ningxia, China
HU Haiying, ZHU Lin, LI Huixia, XU Dongmei, XIE Yingzhong
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (2): 109-122.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0051-z
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Frequent periods of drought conditions are known to limit plant performance, primary production, and ecosystem stability in arid and semi-arid desert steppe environments. Plants often avoid competition by shifting their water use seasonally, which affects the water-use patterns of dominant species as well as the composition and structure of plant communities. However, the water-use strategies of dominant herbaceous species, which grow under natural field conditions in the desert steppe region of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China, are poorly known. Here, we explored the possible sources of water uptake and water-use efficiency (WUE) of three dominant herbaceous plant species (Stipa breviflora, Agropyron mongolicum, and Glycyrrhiza uralensis) in a native desert steppe in the semi-arid area of Ningxia through an analysis of multiple parameters, including (1) the stable isotopic oxygen and hydrogen (δ 18O and δ 2H) compositions of precipitation, soil water, and stem water, (2) the carbon isotope ( 13C) composition of leaves, and (3) the soil water contents, based on field sampling across varying water conditions from June to September, 2017. Frequent small precipitation events replenished shallow soil water, whereas large events only percolated down to the deep soil layers. Changes in soil water availability affected the water-use patterns of plants. Generally, during light precipitation periods, the deep root system of G. uralensis accessed deeper (>80 cm) soil water, whereas S. breviflora and A. mongolicum, which only have shallow roots, primarily absorbed water from the shallow and middle soil layers. As precipitation increased, all three plant species primarily obtained water from the shallow soil layers. Variation in soil water uptake between the dry and wet seasons enabled plants to make better use of existing satoil water. In addition, the δ 13C values of G. uralensis and S. breviflora were higher than those of A. mongolicum. The δ 13C values of the three plant species were significantly negatively correlated with soil water content. Therefore, G. uralensis and S. breviflora maintained a higher WUE through their conservative and water-saving strategies across the entire growing season. In contrast, A. mongolicum, with a relatively low WUE in the wet season but a high WUE in the dry season, exhibited a more flexible water-use strategy. The different water-use strategies of these dominant plant species demonstrated the mechanisms by which plant communities can respond to drought.

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Investigation of crop evapotranspiration and irrigation water requirement in the lower Amu Darya River Basin, Central Asia
Durdiev KHAYDAR, CHEN Xi, HUANG Yue, Makhmudov ILKHOM, LIU Tie, Ochege FRIDAY, Abdullaev FARKHOD, Gafforov KHUSEN, Omarakunova GULKAIYR
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (1): 23-39.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0054-9
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High water consumption and inefficient irrigation management in the agriculture sector of the middle and lower reaches of the Amu Darya River Basin (ADRB) have significantly influenced the gradual shrinking of the Aral Sea and its ecosystem. In this study, we investigated the crop water consumption in the growing seasons and the irrigation water requirement for different crop types in the lower ADRB during 2004-2017. We applied the FAO Penman-Monteith method to estimate reference evapotranspiration (ET0) based on daily climatic data collected from four meteorological stations. Crop evapotranspiration (ETc) of specific crop types was calculated by the crop coefficient. Then, we analyzed the net irrigation requirement (NIR) based on the effective precipitation with crop water requirements. The results indicated that the lowest monthly ET0 values in the lower ADRB were found in December (18.2 mm) and January (16.0 mm), and the highest monthly ET0 values were found in June and July, with similar values of 211.6 mm. The annual ETc reached to 887.2, 1002.1, and 492.0 mm for cotton, rice, and wheat, respectively. The average regional NIR ranged from 514.9 to 715.0 mm in the 10 Irrigation System Management Organizations (UISs) in the study area, while the total required irrigation volume for the whole region ranged from 4.2×109 to 11.6×109 m3 during 2004-2017. The percentages of NIR in SIW (surface irrigation water) ranged from 46.4% to 65.2% during the study period, with the exceptions of the drought years of 2008 and 2011, in which there was a significantly less runoff in the Amu Darya River. This study provides an overview for local water authorities to achieve optimal regional water allocation in the study area.

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Drought trend analysis in a semi-arid area of Iraq based on Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, Normalized Difference Water Index and Standardized Precipitation Index
Ayad M F AL-QURAISHI, Heman A GAZNAYEE, Mattia CRESPI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (4): 413-430.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0062-9
Abstract311)   HTML27)    PDF(pc) (3359KB)(337)       Save

Drought was a severe recurring phenomenon in Iraq over the past two decades due to climate change despite the fact that Iraq has been one of the most water-rich countries in the Middle East in the past. The Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) is located in the north of Iraq, which has also suffered from extreme drought. In this study, the drought severity status in Sulaimaniyah Province, one of four provinces of the IKR, was investigated for the years from 1998 to 2017. Thus, Landsat time series dataset, including 40 images, were downloaded and used in this study. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and the Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) were utilized as spectral-based drought indices and the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) was employed as a meteorological-based drought index, to assess the drought severity and analyse the changes of vegetative cover and water bodies. The study area experienced precipitation deficiency and severe drought in 1999, 2000, 2008, 2009, and 2012. Study findings also revealed a drop in the vegetative cover by 33.3% in the year 2000. Furthermore, the most significant shrinkage in water bodies was observed in the Lake Darbandikhan (LDK), which lost 40.5% of its total surface area in 2009. The statistical analyses revealed that precipitation was significantly positively correlated with the SPI and the surface area of the LDK (correlation coefficients of 0.92 and 0.72, respectively). The relationship between SPI and NDVI-based vegetation cover was positive but not significant. Low precipitation did not always correspond to vegetative drought; the delay of the effect of precipitation on NDVI was one year.

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Spatial and temporal gradients in the rate of dust deposition and aerosol optical thickness in southwestern Iran
Mansour A FOROUSHANI, Christian OPP, Michael GROLL
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (1): 1-22.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0079-5
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The southwestern Iran is one of the regions that are most prone to dust events. The objective of this study is the analysis of the spatial and temporal distributions of dust deposition rate as a key factor for finding the relative impact of the dust. First, the monthly mean aerosol optical thickness (AOT) from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) was analyzed and compared with the dust amount variations from ground deposition rate (GDR), and the results were further used to investigate the spatial and temporal distributions of dust events in southwestern Iran for the period between 2014 and 2015. Moving air mass trajectories, using the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model, were proven to be a discriminator of their local and regional origin. The results from GDR analysis produced a correlation coefficient between dust event history and deposition rates at dust magnitudes of >0.93 that is meaningful at the 95% confidence level. Furthermore, the deposition rates varied from 3 g/m2 per month in summer to 10 g/m2 per month in spring and gave insight into the transport direction of the dust. Within the same time series, AOT correspondences with MODIS on Terra in four aerosol thickness layers (clean, thin, thick, and strong thick) were shown in relation to each other. The deepest mixed layers were observed in spring and summer with a thickness of approximately 3500 m above ground level in the study area. Investigations of ground-based observations were correlated with the same variations for each aerosol thickness layer from MODIS images and they can be applied to discriminate layers of aeolian dust from layers of other aerosols. Together, dust distribution plots from AOT participated to enhance mass calculations and estimation deposition rates from the thick and strong thick aerosol thickness layers using the results from GDR. Despite all the advances of AOT, under certain circumstances, ground-based observations are better able to represent aerosol conditions over the study area, which were tested in southwestern Iran, even though the low number of observations is a commonly acknowledged drawback of GDR.

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Decomposition of different crop straws and variation in straw-associated microbial communities in a peach orchard, China
ZHANG Hong, CAO Yingfei, LYU Jialong
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (2): 152-164.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0001-9
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Crop residue is a major source of soil organic matter; therefore, application of crop straw to soil contributes to the sustainable development of organic agriculture. To better understand the transformation of crop straw in orchard soils, we investigated the relationship between the characteristics of straw decomposition and functional diversity of associated microbial communities in a long-term peach orchard, China. Mesh bags, each containing 30 g of corn or bean straw, were buried at a soil depth of 20 cm in a 12-year-old peach orchard for 360 d (October 2011-October 2012). Three treatments were applied, i.e., fresh corn straw, fresh corn straw with nitrogen fertilizer (urea, 10.34 g/kg), and fresh bean straw. Changes in straw residual rate, straw water content and soil conditions were monitored after treatment. The functional diversity of straw-associated microbial communities was analyzed by the Biolog-Eco microplate assay. During the decomposition process, straw residual rates did not vary considerably from 10 d (30.4%-45.4%) to 360 d (19.0%-30.3%). Irrespective of nitrogen addition, corn straw decomposed faster than bean straw. Corn straw with nitrogen fertilizer yielded the highest average well color development (AWCD) values (1.11-1.67), followed by corn straw (1.14-1.68) and bean straw (1.18-1.62). Although the AWCD values did not differ significantly among the three treatments, substantial differences occurred across various time periods of the decomposition process (P<0.01). In terms of carbon source utilization, the dominant microbial groups fed mainly on saccharides. Hard-to-decompose substances gradually accumulated in the middle and late stages of straw decomposition. Of the six categories of carbon sources tested, the utilization rate of aromatics was the lowest with corn straw, whereas that of polymers was the lowest with bean straw. Among different treatments, straw residual rate was negatively correlated to soil available phosphorous, soil available potassium and soil temperature (P<0.05), but not to soil water content. In some cases (corn straw with or without nitrogen fertilizer), straw residual rate was negatively correlated to straw water content, amino acid utilization and carboxylic acid utilization, and positively correlated with microbial species richness and evenness (P<0.05). Microbial community associated with corn and bean straw decomposition in soil was respectively dominated by aromatic- and polymer-metabolizing groups during the middle and late stages of this process, which could reduce the stability of microbial community structure and decrease the rate of straw decomposition in the fruit tree orchard.

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Optimization designs of artificial facilities in deserts based on computational simulation
DUN Hongchao, HUANG Ning, ZHANG Jie
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (3): 290-302.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0059-4
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Sediment transport of sand particles by wind is one of the main processes leading to desertification in arid regions, which severely impairs the ability of mankind to produce and live by drifting sand into settlements. Optimization designs of artificial facilities have lately attracted extensive interest for human settlement systems in deserts because of their acceptable protection effect, convenience of implementation, and low material cost. However, the complexity of a settlement system poses challenges concerning finding suitable materials, artificial facilities, and optimization designs for sand deposition protection. In an effort to overcome these challenges, we propose a settlement system built with brick, solar panel, and building arrays to meet the basic needs of human settlements in arid regions while preventing wind-sand disasters. The wind flow and movement characteristics of sand particles in the brick, panel, and building arrays were calculated using computational fluid dynamics and discrete phase model. The performance of three types of arrays in wind-sand flow in terms of decreasing the wind velocity and sand-particle invasion distance was evaluated. The results show that the wind velocity near the surface and the sand invasion distance were significantly decreased in the space between the brick arrays through properly selected vertical size and interspaces, indicating that the brick arrays have an impressive sand fixing and blocking performance; their effective protection distance was 3-4 m. The building arrays increased the near-surface wind velocity among buildings, resulting in less deposition of sand particles. The solar panel arrays were similar to the building arrays in most cases, but the deposition of sand particles on solar panels exerted a negative effect on energy utilization efficiency. Therefore, taking the optimal configuration of the settlement system into consideration, this study concludes that (1) brick arrays, which were proven effective in preventing sand particles, must be arranged in an upwind area; (2) solar panel arrays could accelerate the wind flow, so they are best to be arranged at the place where sand particles deposited easily; and (3) building arrays present a better arrangement in downwind areas.

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Delayed seed dispersal species and related traits in the desert of the United Arab Emirates
Teresa NAVARRO, Hatem A SHABANA, Ali EL-KEBLAWY, Noelia HIDALGO-TRIANA
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (9): 962-976.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0018-0
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The ability of plants to safely retain seeds in the mother plant is an adaptive mechanism described in many desert plants. However, research about delayed seed dispersal species in the desert of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is lacking. This study aims to identify these delayed seed dispersal species and assess the relationships of the presence of delayed seed dispersal with plant growth form, habit, spatial dispersal, antitelechoric mechanism, and seed release time. The relationships between the presence of delayed seed dispersal and the above studied traits were assessed by using the Pearson Chi-square test and Nonlinear Principal Components Analysis (NLPCA). Results showed that a total of 46 delayed seed dispersal species were recorded (15.0% of 307 studied species) and the highest incidence occurred in the Fabaceae family (17.4%). Delayed seed dispersal species were predominantly perennial plants (73.9%) with spatial restricted dispersal (67.4%), which released seed in the dry season (45.7%). The dominant groups of delayed seed dispersal species were persistent fruits species and synaptospermy (28.3%). All graminoids showed persistent lignified fruits, while prostrate annuals were basicarpic species with myxospermy. Sandy habitats had the highest number of delayed seed dispersal species (54.3%), whereas salt flats had the lowest (23.9%). In the desert of the UAE, delayed seed dispersal species spread seeds until the end of the dry and windy season, thus breaking seed dormancy at this time and ensuring seed germination in the next arrival of the rainy season. This morphological and ecological adaptation of delayed dispersal species is essential to the survival and sustainable development of vegetation in desert environments.

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Transformation of vegetative cover on the Ustyurt Plateau of Central Asia as a consequence of the Aral Sea shrinkage
Adilov BEKZOD, Shomurodov HABIBULLO, FAN Lianlian, LI Kaihui, MA Xuexi, LI Yaoming
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (1): 71-87.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0077-7
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The gradual shrinkage of the Aral Sea has led to not only the degradation of the unique environments of the Aral Sea, but also numerous and fast developing succession processes in the neighborhood habitats surrounding the sea. In this study, we investigated the vegetative succession processes related to the Aral Sea shrinkage in the Eastern Cliff of the Ustyurt Plateau in Republic of Uzbekistan, Central Asia. We compared the results of our current investigation (2010-2017) on vegetative communities with the geobotany data collected during the 1970s (1970-1980). The results showed great changes in the mesophytic plant communities and habitat aridization as a result of the drop in the underground water level, which decreased atmospheric humidity and increased the salt content of the soil caused by the shrinkage of the Aral Sea. In the vegetative communities, we observed a decrease in the Margalef index (DMg), which had a positive correlation with the poly-dominance index (I-D). The main indications of the plant communities' transformation were the loss of the weak species, the appearance of new communities with low species diversity, the stabilization of the projective cover of former resistant communities, as well as the appearance of a new competitive species, which occupy new habitats.

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Interactions between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert of central Iran
Hossein BASHARI, SeyedMehrdad KAZEMI, Soghra POODINEH, Mohammad R MOSADDEGHI, Mostafa TARKESH, SeyedMehdi ADNANI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (2): 123-134.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0003-7
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Investigating the relationships between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors provide management insights into factors affecting the growth and establishment of plant species and vegetation communities in saline areas. The aim of this study was to assess the spatial variability of various vegetation communities in relation to edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert, central Iran. Fifteen vegetation communities were identified using the physiognomy-floristic method. Coverage and density of vegetation communities were determined using the transect plot method. Forty soil samples were collected from major horizons of fifteen profiles in vegetation communities, and analyzed in terms of following soil physical and chemical characteristics: soil texture, soluble Na + concentration, sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), electrical conductivity (EC), pH, organic matter content, soluble Mg 2+ and Ca 2+ concentrations, carbonate and gypsum contents, and spontaneously- and mechanically-dispersible clay contents. Redundancy analysis was used to investigate the relationships between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors. The generalized linear method (GLM) was used to find the plant species response curves against edaphic factors. Results showed that plant species responded differently to edaphic factors, in which soluble sodium concentration, EC, SAR, gypsum content and soil texture were identified as the most discriminative edaphic factors. The studied plant species were also found to have different ecological requirements and tolerance to edaphic factors, in which Tamarix aphylla and Halocnemum strobilaceum were identified as the most salt-resistant species in the region. Furthermore, the presence of Artemisia sieberi was highly related to soil sand and gypsum contents. The results implied that exploring the plant species response curves against edaphic factors can assist managers to lay out more appropriate restoration plans in similar arid areas.

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Aggregate binding agents improve soil aggregate stability in Robinia pseudoacacia forests along a climatic gradient on the Loess Plateau, China
JING Hang, MENG Min, WANG Guoliang, LIU Guobin
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (2): 165-174.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0002-8
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The distribution of binding agents (i.e., soil organic carbon (SOC) and glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP)) in soil aggregates was influenced by many factors, such as plant characteristics and soil properties. However, how these factors affect binding agents and soil aggregate stability along a climatic gradient remained unclear. We selected the Robinia pseudoacacia L. forests from semi-arid to semi-humid of the Loess Plateau, China to analyze the plant biomass, soil physical-chemical properties, SOC and GRSP distribution in different sized soil aggregates. We found that from semi-arid to semi-humid forests: (1) the proportion of macro-aggregates (>0.250 mm) significantly increased (P<0.05), whereas those of micro-aggregates (0.250-0.053 mm) and fine materials (<0.053 mm) decreased and soil aggregate stability was increased; (2) the contents of SOC and GRSP in macro-aggregates and micro-aggregates significantly increased, and those in fine materials decreased; (3) the contribution of SOC to soil aggregate stability was greater than those of total GRSP and easily extractable GRSP; (4) soil properties had greater influence on binding agents than plant biomass; and (5) soil aggregate stability was enhanced by increasing the contents of SOC and GRSP in macro-aggregates and soil property was the important part during this process. Climate change from semi-arid to semi-humid forests is important factor for soil structure formation because of its positive effect on soil aggregates.

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Climate change impacts on the streamflow of Zarrineh River, Iran
Farhad YAZDANDOOST, Sogol MORADIAN
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (9): 891-904.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0091-4
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Zarrineh River is located in the northwest of Iran, providing more than 40% of the total inflow into the Lake Urmia that is one of the largest saltwater lakes on the earth. Lake Urmia is a highly endangered ecosystem on the brink of desiccation. This paper studied the impacts of climate change on the streamflow of Zarrineh River. The streamflow was simulated and projected for the period 1992-2050 through seven CMIP5 (coupled model intercomparison project phase 5) data series (namely, BCC-CSM1-1, BNU-ESM, CSIRO-Mk3-6-0, GFDL-ESM2G, IPSL-CM5A-LR, MIROC-ESM and MIROC-ESM-CHEM) under RCP2.6 (RCP, representative concentration pathways) and RCP8.5. The model data series were statistically downscaled and bias corrected using an artificial neural network (ANN) technique and a Gamma based quantile mapping bias correction method. The best model (CSIRO-Mk3-6-0) was chosen by the TOPSIS (technique for order of preference by similarity to ideal solution) method from seven CMIP5 models based on statistical indices. For simulation of streamflow, a rainfall-runoff model, the hydrologiska byrans vattenavdelning (HBV-Light) model, was utilized. Results on hydro-climatological changes in Zarrineh River basin showed that the mean daily precipitation is expected to decrease from 0.94 and 0.96 mm in 2015 to 0.65 and 0.68 mm in 2050 under RCP2.6 and RCP8.5, respectively. In the case of temperature, the numbers change from 12.33°C and 12.37°C in 2015 to 14.28°C and 14.32°C in 2050. Corresponding to these climate scenarios, this study projected a decrease of the annual streamflow of Zarrineh River by half from 2015 to 2050 as the results of climatic changes will lead to a decrease in the annual streamflow of Zarrineh River from 59.49 m3/s in 2015 to 22.61 and 23.19 m3/s in 2050. The finding is of important meaning for water resources planning purposes, management programs and strategies of the Lake's endangered ecosystem.

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Spatiotemporal variation in snow cover and its effects on grassland phenology on the Mongolian Plateau
SA Chula, MENG Fanhao, LUO Min, LI Chenhao, WANG Mulan, ADIYA Saruulzaya, BAO Yuhai
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (4): 332-349.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0056-7
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Snow cover is an important water source for vegetation growth in arid and semi-arid areas, and grassland phenology provides valuable information on the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change. The Mongolian Plateau features both abundant snow cover resources and typical grassland ecosystems. In recent years, with the intensification of global climate change, the snow cover on the Mongolian Plateau has changed correspondingly, with resulting effects on vegetation growth. In this study, using MOD10A1 snow cover data and MOD13A1 Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data combined with remote sensing (RS) and geographic information system (GIS) techniques, we analyzed the spatiotemporal changes in snow cover and grassland phenology on the Mongolian Plateau from 2001 to 2018. The correlation analysis and grey relation analysis were used to determine the influence of snow cover parameters (snow cover fraction (SCF), snow cover duration (SCD), snow cover onset date (SCOD), and snow cover end date (SCED)) on different types of grassland vegetation. The results showed wide snow cover areas, an early start time, a late end time, and a long duration of snow cover over the northern Mongolian Plateau. Additionally, a late start, an early end, and a short duration were observed for grassland phenology, but the southern area showed the opposite trend. The SCF decreased at an annual rate of 0.33%. The SCD was shortened at an annual rate of 0.57 d. The SCOD and SCED in more than half of the study area advanced at annual rates of 5.33 and 5.74 DOY (day of year), respectively. For grassland phenology, the start of the growing season (SOS) advanced at an annual rate of 0.03 DOY, the end of the growing season (EOS) was delayed at an annual rate of 0.14 DOY, and the length of the growing season (LOS) was prolonged at an annual rate of 0.17 d. The SCF, SCD, and SCED in the snow season were significantly positively correlated with the SOS and negatively correlated with the EOS and LOS. The SCOD was significantly negatively correlated with the SOS and positively correlated with the EOS and LOS. The SCD and SCF can directly affect the SOS of grassland vegetation, while the EOS and LOS were obviously influenced by the SCOD and SCED. This study provides a scientific basis for exploring the response trends of alpine vegetation to global climate change.

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Source identification of nitrate in the upper aquifer system of the Wadi Shueib catchment area in Jordan based on stable isotope composition
Mutawakil OBEIDAT, Muheeb AWAWDEH, Noor AL-KHARABSHEH, Ahmad AL-AJLOUNI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (4): 350-374.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0055-8
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Groundwater forms the main freshwater supply in arid and semi-arid areas, and contamination of this precious resource is complicated by the slow rate of recharge in these areas. Nitrate contamination of groundwater is a global water quality problem, as it entails threat to human health as well as aquatic ecosystems. Source identification of contamination is the cornerstone and a prerequisite for any effective management program of water quality. Stable isotope composition of the dissolved nitrate (δ15N-NO3- and δ 18O-NO3-) has been applied to identify NO3- sources and the main transformation processes in the upper aquifer system (A1/2, A4, and B2/A7 aquifers) in the Wadi Shueib catchment area, Jordan. Moreover, the stable isotope compositions of the groundwater (δ2H-H2O and δ18O-H2O) in conjunction with the groundwater hydrochemistry were integrated to investigate the origin and evolution of the groundwater. Results revealed that groundwater in the study area is fresh and hard-very hard water, and mainly a Ca-Mg-Cl type. NO3- concentration was in the range of 7.0-74.0 mg/L with an average of 37.0 mg/L. Most of the samples showed concentration higher than the natural background concentration of NO3- (5.0-10.0 mg/L). The δ 2H-H2O and δ18O-H2O values indicated that the groundwater is meteoric, and of Mediterranean origin, with a strong evaporation effect. The δ15N-NO3- values ranged between 6.0‰ and 11.3‰ with an average of 8.7‰, and the δ18O-NO3- values ranged between 1.6‰ and 5.9‰ with an average of 3.4‰. These values are in conformity with the stable isotope composition of nitrate derived the nitrification of wastewater/manure, and soil NH4. Nitrification and denitrification are the main transformation processes affecting nitrogen species. Statistical analysis revealed no significant differences in the δ2H-H2O and δ18O-H2O values, and δ15N-NO3- and δ 18O-NO3- values for the three aquifers (A1/2, A4, and B2/A7), indicating that the groundwater of these aquifers has the same origin, and a common source of pollution.

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Spatiotemporal patterns of the forage-livestock balance in the Xilin Gol steppe, China: implications for sustainably utilizing grassland-ecosystem services
QU Yingbo, ZHAO Yuanyuan, DING Guodong, CHI Wenfeng, GAO Guanglei
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (2): 135-151.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0053-x
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Understanding the spatiotemporal patterns of the forage-livestock balance is imperative for regionally arranging animal husbandry production while ensuring sustainable grassland-ecosystem service use. The Xilin Gol steppe is an important native grassland resource in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China. This study aimed to elucidate the dynamics of the forage-livestock balance in the Xilin Gol steppe during the period 2000-2015. We evaluated the forage production and corresponding livestock carrying capacity (LCC) in the growing seasons of 2000-2015 using remote sensing data and field surveys. The spatiotemporal patterns of the forage-livestock balance were then assessed at regional, city (including city, county and banner), and village scales using statistical and household survey data. The results showed that both forage production and LCC decreased in the Xilin Gol steppe from east to west. During the period 2000-2015, the regional average forage production and corresponding LCC fluctuated without following a distinct trend, but were consistent with the variations in precipitation. The forage-livestock balance varied with time, space, and scale. At the regional scale, steppes were overgrazed in the early 2000s, but a forage-livestock balance or even grazing potential was achieved in other years. At the city scale, approximately half of the region exhibited a "forage-livestock balance" since 2000. However, about half of the region still experienced overgrazing, which mainly located in the southwest sandy zones. Such changes may have been affected by the variations in grassland quality, forage production, compensation payment, and so on. We suggest a location-specific management scheme for grazing constraints, ecological compensation payment, and industry development to aid in harmonizing animal husbandry and environmental restoration, while promoting sustainable development goals by 2030.

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Damage by wind-blown sand and its control measures along the Taklimakan Desert Highway in China
LI Congjuan, WANG Yongdong, LEI Jiaqiang, XU Xinwen, WANG Shijie, FAN Jinglong, LI Shengyu
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (1): 98-106.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0071-0
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Desertification is one of the most serious environmental problems in the world, especially in the arid desert regions. Combating desertification, therefore, is an urgent task on a regional or even global scale. The Taklimakan Desert in China is the second largest mobile desert in the world and has been called the ''Dead Sea'' due to few organisms can exist in such a harsh environment. The Taklimakan Desert Highway, the longest desert highway (a total length of 446 km) across the mobile desert in the world, was built in the 1990s within the Taklimakan Desert. It has an important strategic significance regarding oil and gas resources exploration and plays a vital role in the socio-economic development of southern Xinjiang, China. However, wind-blow sand seriously damages the smoothness of the desert highway and, in this case, mechanical sand control system (including sand barrier fences and straw checkerboards) was used early in the life of the desert highway to protect the road. Unfortunately, more than 70% of the sand barrier fences and straw checkerboards have lost their functions, and the desert highway has often been buried and frequently blocked since 1999. To solve this problem, a long artificial shelterbelt with the length of 437 km was built along the desert highway since 2000. However, some potential problems still exist for the sustainable development of the desert highway, such as water shortage, strong sandstorms, extreme environmental characteristics and large maintenance costs. The study aims to provide an overview of the damages caused by wind-blown sand and the effects of sand control measures along the Taklimakan Desert Highway. Ultimately, we provide some suggestions for the biological sand control system to ensure the sustainable development of the Taklimakan Desert Highway, such as screening drought-resistant species to reduce the irrigation requirement and ensure the sound development of groundwater, screening halophytes to restore vegetation in the case of soil salinization, and planting cash crops, such as Cistanche, Wolfberry, Apocynum and other cash crops to decrease the high cost of maintenance on highways and shelterbelts.

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Long-term variations in runoff of the Syr Darya River Basin under climate change and human activities
Sanim BISSENBAYEVA, Jilili ABUDUWAILI, Assel SAPAROVA, Toqeer AHMED
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (1): 56-70.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0050-0
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In this study, we analyzed the hydrological and meteorological data from the Syr Darya River Basin during the period of 1930-2015 to investigate variations in river runoff and the impacts of climate change and human activities on river runoff. The Syr Darya River, which is supplied by snow and glacier meltwater upstream, is an important freshwater source for Central Asia, as nearly half of the population is concentrated in this area. River runoff in this arid region is sensitive to climate change and human activities. Therefore, estimation of the climatic and hydrological changes and the quantification of the impacts of climate change and human activities on river runoff are of great concern and important for regional water resources management. The long-term trends of hydrological time series from the selected 11 hydrological stations in the Syr Darya River Basin were examined by non-parametric methods, including the Pettitt change point test and Mann-Kendall trend tests. It was found that 8 out of 11 hydrological stations showed significant downward trends in river runoff. Change of river runoff variations occurred in the year around 1960. Moreover, during the study period (1930-2015), annual mean temperature, annual precipitation, and annual potential evapotranspiration in the river basin increased substantially. We employed hydrological sensitivity method to evaluate the impacts of climate change and human activities on river runoff based on precipitation and potential evapotranspiration. It was estimated that human activities accounted for over 82.6%-98.7% of the reduction in river runoff, mainly owing to water withdrawal for irrigation purpose. The observed variations in river runoff can subsequently lead to adverse ecological consequences from an ecological and regional water resources management perspective.

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How precipitation and grazing influence the ecological functions of drought-prone grasslands on the northern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains, China?
HUANG Xiaotao, LUO Geping, CHEN Chunbo, PENG Jian, ZHANG Chujie, ZHOU Huakun, YAO Buqing, MA Zhen, XI Xiaoyan
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (1): 88-97.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0078-6
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Drought-prone grasslands provide a critical resource for the millions of people who are dependent on livestock for food security. However, this ecosystem is potentially vulnerable to climate change (e.g., precipitation) and human activity (e.g., grazing). Despite this, the influences of precipitation and grazing on ecological functions of drought-prone grasslands in the Tianshan Mountains remain relatively unexplored. Therefore, we conducted a systematic field investigation and a clipping experiment (simulating different intensities of grazing) in a drought-prone grassland on the northern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains in China to examine the influences of precipitation and grazing on aboveground biomass (AGB), soil volumetric water content (SVWC), and precipitation use efficiency (PUE) during the period of 2014-2017. We obtained the meteorological and SVWC data using an HL20 Bowen ratio system and a PR2 soil profile hydrometer, respectively. We found that AGB was clearly affected by both the amount and seasonal pattern of precipitation, and that PUE may be relatively low in years with either low or excessive precipitation. The PUE values were generally higher in the rapid growing season (April-July) than in the entire growing season (April-October). Overall, moderate grazing can promote plant growth under water stress conditions. The SVWC value was higher in the clipped plots than in the unclipped plots in the rapid growing season (April-July), but it was lower in the clipped plots than in the unclipped plots in the slow growing season (August-October). Our findings can enhance the understanding of the ecological effects of precipitation and grazing in drought-prone grasslands and provide data that will support the effective local grassland management.

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Spatiotemporal changes in water, land use, and ecosystem services in Central Asia considering climate changes and human activities
YU Yang, CHEN Xi, Ireneusz MALIK, Malgorzata WISTUBA, CAO Yiguo, HOU Dongde, TA Zhijie, HE Jing, ZHANG Lingyun, YU Ruide, ZHANG Haiyan, SUN Lingxiao
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (9): 881-890.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0084-3
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Central Asia is located in the hinterland of Eurasia, comprising Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan; over 93.00% of the total area is dryland. Temperature rise and human activities have severe impacts on the fragile ecosystems. Since the 1970s, nearly half the great lakes in Central Asia have shrunk and rivers are drying rapidly owing to climate changes and human activities. Water shortage and ecological crisis have attracted extensive international attention. In general, ecosystem services in Central Asia are declining, particularly with respect to biodiversity, water, and soil conservation. Furthermore, the annual average temperature and annual precipitation in Central Asia increased by 0.30°C/decade and 6.9 mm/decade in recent decades, respectively. Temperature rise significantly affected glacier retreat in the Tianshan Mountains and Pamir Mountains, which may intensify water shortage in the 21st century. The increase in precipitation cannot counterbalance the aggravation of water shortage caused by the temperature rise and human activities in Central Asia. The population of Central Asia is growing gradually, and its economy is increasing steadily. Moreover, the agricultural land has not been expended in the last two decades. Thus, water and ecological crises, such as the Aral Sea shrinkage in the 21st century, cannot be attributed to agriculture extension any longer. Unbalanced regional development and water interception/transfer have led to the irrational exploitation of water resources in some watersheds, inducing downstream water shortage and ecological degradation. In addition, accelerated industrialization and urbanization have intensified this process. Therefore, all Central Asian countries must urgently reach a consensus and adopt common measures for water and ecological protection.

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Soil quality assessment in different dammed-valley farmlands in the hilly-gully mountain areas of the northern Loess Plateau, China
CHEN Shumin, JIN Zhao, ZHANG Jing, YANG Siqi
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (8): 777-789.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0014-4
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There are numerous valley farmlands on the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP), where suffers from low soil quality and high risk of soil salinization due to the shallow groundwater table and poor drainage system. Currently, research on the evolution processes and mechanisms of soil quality and salinization in these dammed-valley farmlands on the CLP is still inadequately understood. In this study, three kinds of dammed-valley farmlands in the hilly-gully areas of the northern CLP were selected, and the status of soil quality and the impact factors of soil salinization were examined. The dammed-valley farmlands include the new farmland created by the project of Gully Land Consolidation, the 60-a farmland created by sedimentation from check dam, and the 400-a farmland created by sedimentation from an ancient landslide-dammed lake. Results showed that (1) the newly created farmland had the lowest soil quality in terms of soil bulk density, porosity, soil organic carbon and total nitrogen among the three kinds of dammed-valley farmlands; (2) soil salinization occurred in the middle and upper reaches of the new and 60-a valley farmlands, whereas no soil salinization was found in the 400-a valley farmland; and (3) soil salinization and low soil nutrient were determined to be the two important factors that impacted the soil quality of the valley farmlands in the hilly-gully mountain areas of the CLP. We conclude that the dammed-valley farmlands on the CLP have a high risk of soil salinization due to the shallow groundwater table, alkalinity of the loessial soil and local landform feature, thus resulting in the low soil quality of the valley farmlands. Therefore, strengthening drainage and decreasing groundwater table are extremely important to improve the soil quality of the valley farmlands and guarantee the sustainable development of the valley agriculture on the CLP.

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Plant community dynamics in arid lands: the role of desert ants
Mohsen SHARAFATMANDRAD, Azam KHOSRAVI MASHIZI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (3): 303-316.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0006-4
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Ants (Formicidae, Hymenoptera) play an important role in seed bank, seedling establishment and plant composition of arid ecosystems. Thus, knowing plant-ant interaction provides useful information for managers to design restoration and conservation plans. In this study, the roles of desert harvester ants (Messor intermedius and Messor melancholicus) and scavenger ants (Cataglyphis nodus and Lepisiota semenovi) on plant communities were investigated in arid ecosystems of southeastern Iran. Two vegetation types were distinguished in the study area and the nest density of ant species was determined. Furthermore, plant composition and soil seed bank were estimated at different distances from the ant nests. Results showed that the density of M. intermedius and M. melancholicus nests was higher in dwarf shrub-shrub vegetation type and the density of C. nodus and L. semenovi nests was higher in dwarf shrub vegetation type. The harvester and scavenger ants had enhanced the seed bank to 55% and 70%, respectively. Therefore, the role of scavenger ants on the plant communities' seed bank was greater than that of harvester ants. Although the scavenger ants were more influential on the annuals and the invasive plant species, the radius impact of the harvester ants on the perennials was greater, i.e., a positive interaction existed between the perennial plants and the harvester ants. C. nodus and L. semenovi played an important role in enhancing the ecosystem's potential for restoration through establishment of pioneer species in early stage of succession. The activity of M. intermedius is crucial for the development and maintenance of climax plant communities in arid ecosystems through assisting the plant species' establishment in late stage of succession. It is essential to preserve the diversity of these key ant species for the maintenance and sustainability of shrubs in arid ecosystems.

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Potential reduction in water consumption of greenhouse evaporative coolers in arid areas via earth-tube heat exchangers
Abdulrahim M AL-ISMAILI, Moustafa A FADEL, Hemantha JAYASURIYA, L H Janitha JEEWANTHA, Adel AL-MAHDOURI, Talal AL-SHUKEILI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (4): 388-396.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0057-6
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This study aimed to explore the potential of developing a novel cooling system combining a greenhouse and an earth-tube heat exchanger (ETHE). In this system, greenhouse air is circulated through the underneath soil mass to use the deep-soil cooling effect. This was achieved through the following steps. First, soil temperature profile inside and outside the cultivated greenhouse was monitored for almost one year to study the possibility of using deep-soil coldness for cooling the greenhouse air. Second, a prototype ETHE was built to practically investigate the potential reduction in air temperature as the air flows inside the deep earth pipes. Third, a prototype greenhouse was erected to study the ETHE concept. Results from the first experiment revealed that soil temperature at a soil depth of 2.5 m inside the greenhouse offers good conditions to bury the ETHE. The soil temperature at this soil depth was below the maximum temperature (32°C) that most greenhouse crops can withstand. Results from the prototype ETHE showed a slight reduction in air temperature as it passed through the pipes. From the prototype of the integrated greenhouse and ETHE system, reduction in air temperature was observed as the air passed through the ETHE pipes. At night, the air was heated up across the ETHE pipes, indicating that the ETHE was working as a heater. We concluded from this study that greenhouses in arid climates can be cooled using the ETHE concept which would save a large amount of water that would otherwise be consumed in the evaporative coolers. Further investigations are highly encouraged.

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Enhancement of freshwater production of the seawater greenhouse condenser
Tahani K BAIT SUWAILAM, Abdulrahim M AL-ISMAILI, Nasser A AL-AZRI, L H Janitha JEEWANTHA, Hemesiri KOTAGAMA
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (4): 397-412.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0063-8
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Seawater greenhouse (SWGH) is a technology established to overcome issues related to open field cultivation in arid areas, such as the high ambient temperature and the shortage of freshwater. It adopts the humidification-dehumidification concept where evaporated moisture from a saline water source is condensed to produce freshwater within the greenhouse body. Various condenser designs are adopted to increase freshwater production in order to meet the irrigation demand. The aim of this study was to experimentally investigate the practicality of using the packed-type direct contact condenser in the SWGH to produce more freshwater at low costs, simple design and high efficiency, and to explore the impact of the manipulating six operational variables (inlet air temperature of the humidifier, air mass flowrate of the humidifier, inlet water temperature of the humidifier, water mass flowrate of the humidifier, inlet water temperature of the dehumidifier and water mass flowrate of the dehumidifier) on freshwater condensation rate. For this purpose, a direct contact condenser was designed and manufactured. Sixty-four full factorial experiments were conducted to study the effect of the six operational variables. Each variable was operated at two levels (high and low flowrate), and each experiment lasted for 10 min and followed by a 30-min waiting time. Results showed that freshwater production varied between 0.257 and 2.590 L for every 10 min. When using Minitab statistical software to investigate the significant variables that contributed to the maximum freshwater production, it was found that the inlet air temperature of the humidifier had the greatest influence, followed by the inlet water temperature of the humidifier; the former had a negative impact while the latter had a positive impact on freshwater production. The response optimizer tool revealed that the optimal combination of variables contributed to maximize freshwater production when all variables were in the high mode and the inlet air temperature of the humidifier was in the low mode. The comparison between the old plastic condenser and the new proposed direct contact condenser showed that the latter can produce 75.9 times more freshwater at the same condenser volume.

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Potential responses of vegetation to atmospheric aerosols in arid and semi-arid regions of Asia
JIAO Linlin, WANG Xunming, CAI Diwen, HUA Ting
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (5): 516-533.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0005-5
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Changes in atmospheric aerosols have profound effects on ecosystem productivity, vegetation growth and activity by directly and indirectly influencing climate and environment conditions. However, few studies have focused on the effects of atmospheric aerosols on vegetation growth and activity in the vulnerable arid and semi-arid regions, which are also the source areas of aerosols. Using the datasets of aerosol optical depth (AOD), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and multiple climatic variables including photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), surface solar radiation (SSR), surface air temperature (TEM) and total precipitation (PRE), we analyzed the potential responses of vegetation activity to atmospheric aerosols and their associated climatic factors in arid and semi-arid regions of Asia from 2005 to 2015. Our results suggested that areas with decreasing growing-season NDVI were mainly observed in regions with relatively sparse vegetation coverage, while AOD tended to increase as NDVI decreased in these regions. Upon further analysis, we found that aerosols might exert a negative influence on vegetation activity by reducing SSR, PAR and TEM, as well as suppressing PRE in most arid and semi-arid regions of Asia. Moreover, the responses of atmospheric aerosols on vegetation activity varied among different growing stages. At the early growing stage, higher concentration of aerosol was accompanied with suppressed vegetation growth by enhancing cooling effects and reducing SSR and PAR. At the middle growing stage, aerosols tended to alter microphysical properties of clouds with suppressed PRE, thereby restricting vegetation growth. At the late growing stage, aerosols exerted significantly positive influences on vegetation activity by increasing SSR, PAR and TEM in regions with high anthropogenic aerosols. Overall, at different growing stages, aerosols could influence vegetation activity by changing different climatic factors including SSR, PAR, TEM and PRE in arid and semi-arid regions of Asia. This study not only clarifies the impacts of aerosols on vegetation activity in source areas, but also explains the roles of aerosols in climate.

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Glacier mass balance in High Mountain Asia inferred from a GRACE release-6 gravity solution for the period 2002-2016
XIANG Longwei, WANG Hansheng, JIANG Liming, SHEN Qiang, Holger STEFFEN, LI Zhen
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (3): 224-238.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0094-0
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We provide estimates of glacier mass changes in the High Mountain Asia (HMA) area from April 2002 to August 2016 by employing a new version of gravity solutions of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin-satellite mission. We found a total mass loss trend of the HMA glaciers at a rate of -22.17 (±1.96) Gt/a. The largest mass loss rates of -7.02 (±0.94) and -6.73 (±0.78) Gt/a are found for the glaciers in Nyainqentanglha Mountains and Eastern Himalayas, respectively. Although most glaciers in the HMA area show a mass loss, we find a small glacier mass gain of 1.19 (±0.55) and 0.77 (±0.37) Gt/a in Karakoram Mountains and West Kunlun Mountains, respectively. There is also a nearly zero mass balance in Pamirs. Our estimates of glacier mass change trends confirm previous results from the analysis of altimetry data of the ICESat (Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation) and ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) DEM (Digital Elevation Model) satellites in most of the selected glacier areas. However, they largely differ to previous GRACE-based studies which we attribute to our different post-processing techniques of the newer GRACE data. In addition, we explicitly show regional mass change features for both the interannual glacier mass changes and the 14-a averaged seasonal glacier mass changes. These changes can be explained in parts by total net precipitation (net snowfall and net rainfall) and net snowfall, but mostly by total net radiation energy when compared to data from the ERA5-Land meteorological reanalysis. Moreover, nearly all the non-trend interannual mass changes and most seasonal mass changes can be explained by the total net radiation energy data. The mass loss trends could be partly related to a heat effect due to increased net rainfall in Tianshan Mountains, Qilian Mountains, Nyainqentanglha Mountains and Eastern Himalayas. Our new results for the glacier mass change in this study could help improve the understanding of glacier variation in the HMA area and contribute to the study of global change. They could also serve the utilization of water resources there and in neighboring areas.

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Monitoring fire regimes and assessing their driving factors in Central Asia
YIN Hanmin, Jiapaer GULI, JIANG Liangliang, YU Tao, Jeanine UMUHOZA, LI Xu
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (5): 500-515.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0008-2
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Relatively little is known about fire regimes in grassland and cropland in Central Asia. In this study, eleven variables of fire regimes were measured from 2001 to 2019 by utilizing the burned area and active fire product, which was obtained and processed from the GEE (Google Earth Engine) platform, to describe the incidence, inter-annual variability, peak month and size of fire in four land cover types (forest, grassland, cropland and bare land). Then all variables were clustered to define clusters of fire regimes with unique fire attributes using the K-means algorithm. Results showed that Kazakhstan (KAZ) was the most affected by fire in Central Asia. Fire regimes in cropland in KAZ had the frequent, large and intense characters, which covered large burned areas and had a long duration. Fires in grassland mainly occurred in central KAZ and had the small scale and high-intensity characters with different quarterly frequencies. Fires in forest were mainly distributed in northern KAZ and eastern KAZ. Although fires in grassland underwent a shift from more to less frequent from 2001 to 2019 in Central Asia, vigilance is needed because most fires in grassland occur suddenly and cause harm to humans and livestock.

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A study on historical location and evolution of Lop Nor in China with maps and DEM
ZHANG Tingting, SHAO Yun, GENG Yuyang, GONG Huaze, YANG Lan
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (6): 639-652.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0099-9
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Lop Sea, located at the east end of the Tarim Basin, Northwest China, dried up permanently, which is the terminal lake of the Tarim River. Lop Sea was considered as the lake basin of Lop Nor since Quaternary. However, the possibility that Lop Nor was away from the Lop Sea in historical time is crucial to be discussed to interpret the proxy records in sediment profiles. To obtain a general view of the evolution of Lop Nor and Lop Sea in a historical period, several approaches were adopted in this paper. First, the Qianlong Thirteen-Row Atlas, an ancient imperial atlas of the Qing Dynasty, which was completed around 1760, indicated that the Tarim River formed a relatively large lake at its modern upstream region. Second, a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) with a 10-m spatial resolution and a relative precision of 0.42 m was derived from TanDEM-X/TerraSAR-X satellite image pairs using the interferometry method, which was verified using ICESat-GLAS laser footprints and a local DEM acquired by a drone. Finally, based on the spatial analysis of historical documents, expedition reports, sediment profiles and archaeological evidence, it can be deduced that the lacustrine deposition was discontinued in the Lop Sea. Six episodes in the evolutionary history of the drainage system in eastern Tarim Basin were summarized. The proved depositional condition variations could be used for future interpretation of proxy records in sediment. The high-accurate DEM provided a reference for the location of further fieldwork in the Lop Sea. The method proposed in this paper may be efficient for the research of inland lakes or rivers in global arid regions.

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Assessing the response of dryland barley yield to climate variability in semi-arid regions, Iran
Mohammad KHEIRI, Jafar KAMBOUZIA, Reza DEIHIMFARD, Saghi M MOGHADDAM, Seyran ANVARI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (9): 905-917.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0017-1
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Precipitation and temperature are the most abiotic factors that greatly impact the yield of crop, particularly in dryland. Barley, as the main cereal is predominantly cultivated in dryland and the livelihood of smallholders depends on the production of this crop, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions. This study aimed to investigate the response of the grain yield of dryland barley to temperature and precipitation variations at annual, seasonal and monthly scales in seven counties of East and West Azerbaijan provinces in northwestern Iran during 1991-2010. Humidity index (HI) was calculated and its relationship with dryland barley yield was evaluated at annual and monthly scales. The results showed that the minimum, maximum and mean temperatures increased by 0.19°C/a, 0.11°C/a and 0.10°C/a, respectively, while annual precipitation decreased by 0.80 mm/a during 1991-2010. Climate in study area has become drier by 0.22/a in annual HI during the study period. Negative effects of increasing temperature on the grain yield of dryland barley were more severe than the positive effects of increasing precipitation. Besides, weather variations in April and May were related more to the grain yield of dryland barley than those in other months. The grain yield of dryland barley was more drastically affected by the variation of annual minimum temperature comparing with other weather variables. Furthermore, our findings illustrated that the grain yield of dryland barley increased by 0.01 t/hm2 for each unit increase in annual HI during 1991-2010. Finally, any increase in the monthly HI led to crop yield improvement in the study area, particularly in the drier counties, i.e., Myaneh, Tabriz and Khoy in Iran.

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Vegetation dynamics of coal mining city in an arid desert region of Northwest China from 2000 to 2019
ZHOU Siyuan, DUAN Yufeng, ZHANG Yuxiu, GUO Jinjin
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (5): 534-547.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0007-3
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Coal mining has led to serious ecological damages in arid desert region of Northwest China. However, effects of climatic factor and mining activity on vegetation dynamics and plant diversity in this region remain unknown. Wuhai City located in the arid desert region of Northwest China is an industrial city and dominated by coal mining. Based on Landsat data and field investigation in Wuhai City, we analyzed the vegetation dynamics and the relationships with climate factors, coal mining activity and ecological restoration projects from 2000 to 2019. Results showed that vegetation in Wuhai City mostly consisted of desert plants, such as Caragana microphylla, Tetraena mongolica and Achnatherum splendens. And the vegetation fractional coverage (VFC) and greenness rate of change (GRC) showed that vegetation was slightly improved during the study period. Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was positively correlated with annual mean precipitation, relative humidity and annual mean temperature, indicating that these climate factors might play important roles in the improved vegetation. Vegetation coverage and plant diversity around the coal mining area were reduced by coal mining, while the implementation of ecological restoration projects improved the vegetation coverage and plant diversity. Our results suggested that vegetation in the arid desert region was mainly affected by climate factors, and the implementation of ecological restoration projects could mitigate the impacts of coal mining on vegetation and ecological environment.

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Size- and leaf age-dependent effects on the photosynthetic and physiological responses of Artemisia ordosica to drought stress
WANG Chunyuan, YU Minghan, DING Guodong, GAO Guanglei, ZHANG Linlin, HE Yingying, LIU Wei
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (7): 744-758.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0013-5
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Drought is one of the most significant natural disasters in the arid and semi-arid areas of China. Populations or plant organs often differ in their responses to drought and other adversities at different growth stages. At present, little is known about the size- and leaf age-dependent differences in the mechanisms of shrub-related drought resistance in the deserts of China. Here, we evaluated the photosynthetic and physiological responses of Artemisia ordosica Krasch. to drought stress using a field experiment in Mu Us Sandy Land, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China in 2018. Rainfall was manipulated by installing outdoor shelters, with four rainfall treatments applied to 12 plots (5 m×5 m). There were four rainfall levels, including a control and rainfall reductions of 30%, 50% and 70%, each with three replications. Taking individual crown size as the dividing basis, we measured the responses of A. ordosica photosynthetic and physiological responses to drought at different growth stages, i.e., large-sized (>0.5 m2) and small-sized (≤0.5 m2) plants. The leaves of A. ordosica were divided into old leaves and young leaves for separate measurement. Results showed that: (1) under drought stress, the transfer efficiency of light energy captured by antenna pigments to the photosystem II (PSII) reaction center decreased, and the heat dissipation capacity increased simultaneously. To resist the photosynthetic system damage caused by drought, A. ordosica enhanced its free radical scavenging capacity by activating its antioxidant enzyme system; and (2) growth stage and leaf age had effects on the reaction of the photosynthetic system to drought. Small A. ordosica plants could not withstand severe drought stress (70% rainfall reduction), whereas large A. ordosica individuals could absorb deep soil water to ensure their survival in severe drought stressed condition. Under 30% and 50% rainfall reduction conditions, young leaves had a greater ability to resist drought than old leaves, whereas the latter were more resistant to severe drought stress. The response of A. ordosica photosynthetic system reflected the trade-off at different growth stages and leaf ages of photosynthetic production under different degrees of drought. This study provides a more comprehensive and systematic perspective for understanding the drought resistance mechanisms of desert plants.

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Plant cover as an estimator of above-ground biomass in semi-arid woody vegetation in Northeast Patagonia, Argentina
Laura B RODRIGUEZ, Silvia S TORRES ROBLES, Marcelo F ARTURI, Juan M ZEBERIO, Andrés C H GRAND, Néstor I GASPARRI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (9): 918-933.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0083-4
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The quantification of carbon storage in vegetation biomass is a crucial factor in the estimation and mitigation of CO2 emissions. Globally, arid and semi-arid regions are considered an important carbon sink. However, they have received limited attention and, therefore, it should be a priority to develop tools to quantify biomass at the local and regional scales. Individual plant variables, such as stem diameter and crown area, were reported to be good predictors of individual plant weight. Stand-level variables, such as plant cover and mean height, are also easy-to-measure estimators of above-ground biomass (AGB) in dry regions. In this study, we estimated the AGB in semi-arid woody vegetation in Northeast Patagonia, Argentina. We evaluated whether the AGB at the stand level can be estimated based on plant cover and to what extent the estimation accuracy can be improved by the inclusion of other field-measured structure variables. We also evaluated whether remote sensing technologies can be used to reliably estimate and map the regional mean biomass. For this purpose, we analyzed the relationships between field-measured woody vegetation structure variables and AGB as well as LANDSAT TM-derived variables. We obtained a model-based ratio estimate of regional mean AGB and its standard error. Total plant cover allowed us to obtain a reliable estimation of local AGB, and no better fit was attained by the inclusion of other structure variables. The stand-level plant cover ranged between 18.7% and 95.2% and AGB between about 2.0 and 70.8 Mg/hm2. AGB based on total plant cover was well estimated from LANDSAT TM bands 2 and 3, which facilitated a model-based ratio estimate of the regional mean AGB (approximately 12.0 Mg/hm2) and its sampling error (about 30.0%). The mean AGB of woody vegetation can greatly contribute to carbon storage in semi-arid lands. Thus, plant cover estimation by remote sensing images could be used to obtain regional estimates and map biomass, as well as to assess and monitor the impact of land-use change on the carbon balance, for arid and semi-arid regions.

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Spatiotemporal analysis of drought variability based on the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index in the Koshi River Basin, Nepal
Nirmal M DAHAL, XIONG Donghong, Nilhari NEUPANE, Belayneh YIGEZ, ZHANG Baojun, YUAN Yong, Saroj KOIRALA, LIU Lin, FANG Yiping
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (5): 433-454.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0065-6
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Drought is an inevitable condition with negative impacts in the agricultural and climatic sectors, especially in developing countries. This study attempts to examine the spatial and temporal characteristics of drought and its trends in the Koshi River Basin (KRB) in Nepal, using the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) over the period from 1987 to 2017. The Mann-Kendall test was used to explore the trends of the SPEI values. The study illustrated the increasing annual and seasonal drought trends in the KRB over the study period. Spatially, the hill region of the KRB showed substantial increasing drought trends at the annual and seasonal scales, especially in summer and winter. The mountain region also showed a significant increasing drought trend in winter. The drought characteristic analysis indicated that the maximum duration, intensity, and severity of drought events were observed in the KRB after 2000. The Terai region presented the highest drought frequency and intensity, while the hill region presented the longest maximum drought duration. Moreover, the spatial extent of drought showed a significant increasing trend in the hill region at the monthly (drought station proportion of 7.6%/10a in August), seasonal (drought station proportion of 7.2%/10a in summer), and annual (drought station proportion of 6.7%/10a) scales. The findings of this study can assist local governments, planners, and project implementers in understanding drought and developing appropriate mitigation strategies to cope with its impacts.

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Erratum to: Snowpack shifts cyanobacterial community in biological soil crusts
ZHANG Bingchang, ZHANG Yongqing, ZHOU Xiaobing, LI Xiangzhen, ZHANG Yuanming
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (5): 548-548.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0073-6
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Characteristics and hazards of different snow avalanche types in a continental snow climate region in the Central Tianshan Mountains
HAO Jiansheng, Richard MIND'JE, LIU Yang, HUANG Farong, ZHOU Hao, LI Lanhai
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (4): 317-331.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0058-5
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Snow avalanches are a common natural hazard in many countries with seasonally snow-covered mountains. The avalanche hazard varies with snow avalanche type in different snow climate regions and at different times. The ability to understand the characteristics of avalanche activity and hazards of different snow avalanche types is a prerequisite for improving avalanche disaster management in the mid-altitude region of the Central Tianshan Mountains. In this study, we collected data related to avalanche, snowpack, and meteorology during four snow seasons (from 2015 to 2019), and analysed the characteristics and hazards of different types of avalanches. The snow climate of the mid-altitude region of the Central Tianshan Mountains was examined using a snow climate classification scheme, and the results showed that the mountain range has a continental snow climate. To quantify the hazards of different types of avalanches and describe their situation over time in the continental snow climate region, this study used the avalanche hazard degree to assess the hazards of four types of avalanches, i.e., full-depth dry snow avalanches, full-depth wet snow avalanches, surface-layer dry snow avalanches, and surface-layer wet snow avalanches. The results indicated that surface-layer dry snow avalanches were characterized by large sizes and high release frequencies, which made them having the highest avalanche hazard degree in the Central Tianshan Mountains with a continental snow climate. The overall avalanche hazard showed a single peak pattern over time during the snow season, and the greatest hazard occurred in the second half of February when the snowpack was deep and the temperature increased. This study can help the disaster and emergency management departments rationally arrange avalanche relief resources and develop avalanche prevention strategies.

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Soil bacterial characteristics between surface and subsurface soils along a precipitation gradient in the Alxa Desert, China
TENG Zeyu, XIAO Shengchun, CHEN Xiaohong, HAN Chao
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (3): 257-273.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0004-6
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Bacteria in desert soil have unique phylogeny and important ecological functions, and their responses to changes in precipitation need further attention. However, relevant studies have mainly focused on the surface soil, and studies on the responses of bacteria at different soil depths to variations in precipitation are rare. Thus, we used 16S rDNA high-throughput sequencing to investigate the changes in soil bacterial distribution along a mean annual precipitation gradient (50-150 mm) in the Alxa Desert, China, and compared the variation characteristics in the surface soil layer (0-10 cm) and subsurface soil layer (10-20 cm). Results showed that soil bacterial communities significantly changed along the precipitation gradient in both soil layers. However, the subsurface soil layer could support bacterial communities with higher diversity and closer internal relationships but more internal competition than the surface soil layer. Additionally, compared with the surface soil layer, variations in diversity and co-occurrence patterns in the subsurface soil layer were more in line with the changes in the mean annual precipitation, while bacterial community structure was less variable in the subsurface soil layer. Compared with the mean annual precipitation, soil moisture had little influence on the structure and diversity of soil bacterial community but had a high correlation with intercommunity connectivity. Therefore, soil moisture might play a complex role in mediating environmental conditions and soil bacterial community characteristics. Due to the different responses of surface and subsurface soil bacteria to the changes in precipitation, it is necessary to distinguish different soil layers when predicting the trends in desert soil bacterial conditions associated with precipitation, and prediction of subsurface soil bacteria may be more accurate.

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Effect of stones on the sand saltation threshold during natural sand and dust storms in a stony desert in Tsogt-Ovoo in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Batjargal BUYANTOGTOKH, Yasunori KUROSAKI, Atsushi TSUNEKAWA, Mitsuru TSUBO, Batdelger GANTSETSEG, Amarsaikhan DAVAADORJ, Masahide ISHIZUKA, Tsuyoshi T SEKIYAMA, Taichu Y TANAKA, Takashi MAKI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (7): 653-673.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0072-7
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Non-erodible elements such as stones and vegetation are key to controlling wind erosion and dust emission in drylands. Stony deserts are widely distributed in the Gobi Desert, but the effect of stones on wind erosion and dust emission have not been well studied, except under artificial conditions. In this study, we evaluated the effect of stones on wind erosion and dust emission by measuring the sand saltation threshold in a stony desert in Tsogt-Ovoo in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia, under natural surface conditions during sand and dust storms. We quantified the amount of stones by measuring the roughness density, and determined the threshold friction velocity for sand saltation by measuring wind speed and sand saltation count. Our results showed that the threshold friction velocity increased with the roughness density of stones. In the northern part of the study area, where neither a surface crust nor vegetation was observed, the roughness density of stones was 0.000 in a topographic depression (TD), 0.050 on a northern slope (N.SL), and 0.160 on the northern mountain (N.MT). The mean threshold friction velocity values were 0.23, 0.41, and 0.57 m/s at the TD, N.SL, and N.MT sites, respectively. In the southern part of the study area, the roughness density values of stones were 0.000 and 0.070-0.320 at the TD and southern slope sites, respectively, and the mean threshold friction velocities were 0.23 and 0.45-0.71 m/s, respectively. We further compared the observed threshold friction velocities with simulated threshold friction velocities using Raupach's theoretical roughness correction and the measured roughness density values, and found that Raupach's roughness correction worked very well in the simulation of threshold friction velocity in the stony desert. This means that the results of our stone measurement can be applied to a numerical dust model.

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Effects of climate change and land-use changes on spatiotemporal distributions of blue water and green water in Ningxia, Northwest China
WU Jun, DENG Guoning, ZHOU Dongmei, ZHU Xiaoyan, MA Jing, CEN Guozhang, JIN Yinli, ZHANG Jun
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (7): 674-687.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0074-5
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Water resources are a crucial factor that determines the health of ecosystems and socio-economic development; however, they are under threat due to climate change and human activities. The quantitative assessment of water resources using the concept of blue water and green water can improve regional water resources management. In this study, spatiotemporal distributions of blue water and green water were simulated and analyzed under scenarios of climate change and land-use changes using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Northwest China, between 2009 and 2014. Green water, a leading component of water resources, accounted for more than 69.00% of the total water resources in Ningxia. Blue water and green water showed a single peak trend on the monthly and annual scales during the study period. On the spatial scale, the southern region of Ningxia showed higher blue water and green water resources than the northern region. The spatiotemporal distribution features of blue water, green water, and green water flow had strong correlations with precipitation. Furthermore, the simulation identified the climate change in Ningxia to be more influential on blue water and green water than land-use changes. This study provides a specific scientific foundation to manage water resources in Ningxia when encountered with climate change together with human activities.

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Spatial-temporal variations of ecological vulnerability in the Tarim River Basin, Northwest China
BAI Jie, LI Junli, BAO Anmin, CHANG Cun
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (8): 814-834.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0079-0
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As the largest inland river basin of China, the Tarim River Basin (TRB), known for its various natural resources and fragile environment, has an increased risk of ecological crisis due to the intensive exploitation and utilization of water and land resources. Since the Ecological Water Diversion Project (EWDP), which was implemented in 2001 to save endangered desert vegetation, there has been growing evidence of ecological improvement in local regions, but few studies have performed a comprehensive ecological vulnerability assessment of the whole TRB. This study established an evaluation framework integrating the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and entropy method to estimate the ecological vulnerability of the TRB covering climatic, ecological, and socioeconomic indicators during 2000-2017. Based on the geographical detector model, the importance of ten driving factors on the spatial-temporal variations of ecological vulnerability was explored. The results showed that the ecosystem of the TRB was fragile, with more than half of the area (57.27%) dominated by very heavy and heavy grades of ecological vulnerability, and 28.40% of the area had potential and light grades of ecological vulnerability. The light grade of ecological vulnerability was distributed in the northern regions (Aksu River and Weigan River catchments) and western regions (Kashgar River and Yarkant River catchments), while the heavy grade was located in the southern regions (Kunlun Mountains and Qarqan River catchments) and the Mainstream catchment. The ecosystems in the western and northern regions were less vulnerable than those in the southern and eastern regions. From 2000 to 2017, the overall improvement in ecological vulnerability in the whole TRB showed that the areas with great ecological improvement increased by 46.11%, while the areas with ecological degradation decreased by 9.64%. The vegetation cover and potential evapotranspiration (PET) were the obvious driving factors, explaining 57.56% and 21.55% of the changes in ecological vulnerability across the TRB, respectively. In terms of ecological vulnerability grade changes, obvious spatial differences were observed in the upper, middle, and lower reaches of the TRB due to the different vegetation and hydrothermal conditions. The alpine source region of the TRB showed obvious ecological improvement due to increased precipitation and temperature, but the alpine meadow of the Kaidu River catchment in the Middle Tianshan Mountains experienced degradation associated with overgrazing and local drought. The improved agricultural management technologies had positive effects on farmland ecological improvement, while the desert vegetation in oasis-desert ecotones showed a decreasing trend as a result of cropland reclamation and intensive drought. The desert riparian vegetation in the lower reaches of the Tarim River was greatly improved due to the implementation of the EWDP, which has been active for tens of years. These results provide comprehensive knowledge about ecological processes and mechanisms in the whole TRB and help to develop environmental restoration measures based on different ecological vulnerability grades in each sub-catchment.

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Effect of nitrogen and phosphorus addition on leaf nutrient concentrations and nutrient resorption efficiency of two dominant alpine grass species
LIU Yalan, LI Lei, LI Xiangyi, YUE Zewei, LIU Bo
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (10): 1041-1053.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0080-7
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Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are two essential nutrients that determine plant growth and many nutrient cycling processes. Increasing N and P deposition is an important driver of ecosystem changes. However, in contrast to numerous studies about the impacts of nutrient addition on forests and temperate grasslands, how plant foliar stoichiometry and nutrient resorption respond to N and P addition in alpine grasslands is poorly understood. Therefore, we conducted an N and P addition experiment (involving control, N addition, P addition, and N+P addition) in an alpine grassland on Kunlun Mountains (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China) in 2016 and 2017 to investigate the changes in leaf nutrient concentrations (i.e., leaf N, Leaf P, and leaf N:P ratio) and nutrient resorption efficiency of Seriphidium rhodanthum and Stipa capillata, which are dominant species in this grassland. Results showed that N addition has significant effects on soil inorganic N (NO3--N and NH4+-N) and leaf N of both species in the study periods. Compared with green leaves, leaf nutrient concentrations and nutrient resorption efficiency in senesced leaves of S. rhodanthum was more sensitive to N addition, whereas N addition influenced leaf N and leaf N:P ratio in green and senesced leaves of S. capillata. N addition did not influence N resorption efficiency of the two species. P addition and N+P addition significantly improved leaf P and had a negative effect on P resorption efficiency of the two species in the study period. These influences on plants can be explained by increasing P availability. The present results illustrated that the two species are more sensitive to P addition than N addition, which implies that P is the major limiting factor in the studied alpine grassland ecosystem. In addition, an interactive effect of N+P addition was only discernable with respect to soil availability, but did not affect plants. Therefore, exploring how nutrient characteristics and resorption response to N and P addition in the alpine grassland is important to understand nutrient use strategy of plants in terrestrial ecosystems.

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Reducing water and nitrogen inputs combined with plastic mulched ridge-furrow irrigation improves soil water and salt status in arid saline areas, China
LI Cheng, WANG Qingsong, LUO Shuai, QUAN Hao, WANG Naijiang, LUO Xiaoqi, ZHANG Tibin, DING Dianyuan, DONG Qin'ge, FENG Hao
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (8): 761-776.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0015-3
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Plastic mulched ridge-furrow irrigation is a useful method to improve crop productivity and decrease salt accumulation in arid saline areas. However, inappropriate irrigation and fertilizer practices may result in ecological and environmental problems. In order to improve the resource use efficiency in these areas, we investigated the effects of different irrigation amounts (400 (I1), 300 (I2) and 200 (I3) mm) and nitrogen application rates (300 (F1) and 150 (F2) kg N/hm2) on water consumption, salt variation and resource use efficiency of spring maize (Zea mays L.) in the Hetao Irrigation District (HID) of Northwest China in 2017 and 2018. Result showed that soil water contents were 0.2%-8.9% and 13.9%-18.1% lower for I2 and I3 than for I1, respectively, but that was slightly higher for F2 than for F1. Soil salt contents were 7.8%-23.5% and 48.5%-48.9% lower for I2 than for I1 and I3, but that was 1.6%-5.5% higher for F1 than for F2. Less salt leaching at the early growth stage (from sowing to six-leaf stage) and higher salt accumulation at the peak growth stage (from six-leaf to tasseling stage and from grain-filling to maturity stage) resulted in a higher soil salt content for I3 than for I1 and I2. Grain yields for I1 and I2 were significantly higher than that for I3 and irrigation water use efficiency for I2 was 14.7%-34.0% higher than that for I1. Compared with F1, F2 increased the partial factor productivity (PFP) of nitrogen fertilizer by more than 80%. PFP was not significantly different between I1F2 and I2F2, but significantly higher than those of other treatments. Considering the goal of saving water and nitrogen resources, and ensuring food security, we recommended the combination of I2F2 to ensure the sustainable development of agriculture in the HID and other similar arid saline areas.

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