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21 June 2017, Volume 9 Issue 4 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Orginal Article
Assessing the impacts of human activities and climate variations on grassland productivity by partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM)
Zongyao SHA, Yichun XIE, Xicheng TAN, Yongfei BAI, Jonathan LI, Xuefeng LIU
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 473-488.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0022-6
Abstract ( 635 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (1120KB) ( 1593 )  

The cause-effect associations between geographical phenomena are an important focus in ecological research. Recent studies in structural equation modeling (SEM) demonstrated the potential for analyzing such associations. We applied the variance-based partial least squares SEM (PLS-SEM) and geographically-weighted regression (GWR) modeling to assess the human-climate impact on grassland productivity represented by above-ground biomass (AGB). The human and climate factors and their interaction were taken to explain the AGB variance by a PLS-SEM developed for the grassland ecosystem in Inner Mongolia, China. Results indicated that 65.5% of the AGB variance could be explained by the human and climate factors and their interaction. The case study showed that the human and climate factors imposed a significant and negative impact on the AGB and that their interaction alleviated to some extent the threat from the intensified human-climate pressure. The alleviation may be attributable to vegetation adaptation to high human-climate stresses, to human adaptation to climate conditions or/and to recent vegetation restoration programs in the highly degraded areas. Furthermore, the AGB response to the human and climate factors modeled by GWR exhibited significant spatial variations. This study demonstrated that the combination of PLS-SEM and GWR model is feasible to investigate the cause-effect relation in socio-ecological systems.

Modelling the impact of climate change on rangeland forage production using a generalized regression neural network: a case study in Isfahan Province, Central Iran
JABERALANSAR Zahra, TARKESH Mostafa, BASSIRI Mehdi, POURMANAFI Saeid
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 489-503.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0058-7
Abstract ( 530 )   HTML ( 3 )     PDF (1174KB) ( 1305 )  

Monitoring of rangeland forage production at specified spatial and temporal scales is necessary for grazing management and also for implementation of rehabilitation projects in rangelands. This study focused on the capability of a generalized regression neural network (GRNN) model combined with GIS techniques to explore the impact of climate change on rangeland forage production. Specifically, a dataset of 115 monitored records of forage production were collected from 16 rangeland sites during the period 1998-2007 in Isfahan Province, Central Iran. Neural network models were designed using the monitored forage production values and available environmental data (including climate and topography data), and the performance of each network model was assessed using the mean estimation error (MEE), model efficiency factor (MEF), and correlation coefficient (r). The best neural network model was then selected and further applied to predict the forage production of rangelands in the future (in 2030 and 2080) under A1B climate change scenario using Hadley Centre coupled model. The present and future forage production maps were also produced. Rangeland forage production exhibited strong correlations with environmental factors, such as slope, elevation, aspect and annual temperature. The present forage production in the study area varied from 25.6 to 574.1 kg/hm2. Under climate change scenario, the annual temperature was predicted to increase and the annual precipitation was predicted to decrease. The prediction maps of forage production in the future indicated that the area with low level of forage production (0-100 kg/hm2) will increase while the areas with moderate, moderately high and high levels of forage production (≥100 kg/hm2) will decrease both in 2030 and in 2080, which may be attributable to the increasing annual temperature and decreasing annual precipitation. It was predicted that forage production of rangelands will decrease in the next couple of decades, especially in the western and southern parts of Isfahan Province. These changes are more pronounced in elevations between 2200 and 2900 m. Therefore, rangeland managers have to cope with these changes by holistic management approaches through mitigation and human adaptations.

Responses of water productivity to irrigation and N supply for hybrid maize seed production in an arid region of Northwest China
Hui RAN, Shaozhong KANG, Fusheng LI, Taisheng DU, Risheng DING, Sien LI, Ling TONG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 504-514.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0017-3
Abstract ( 608 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (811KB) ( 1667 )  

Water and nitrogen (N) are generally two of the most important factors in determining the crop productivity. Proper water and N managements are prerequisites for agriculture sustainable development in arid areas. Field experiments were conducted to study the responses of water productivity for crop yield (WPY-ET) and final biomass (WPB-ET) of film-mulched hybrid maize seed production to different irrigation and N treatments in the Hexi Corridor, Northwest China during April to September in 2013 and also during April to September in 2014. Three irrigation levels (70%-65%, 60%-55%, and 50%-45% of the field capacity) combined with three N rates (500, 400, and 300 kg N/hm2) were tested in 2013. The N treatments were adjusted to 500, 300, and 100 kg N/hm2 in 2014. Results showed that the responses of WPY-ET and WPB-ET to different irrigation amounts were different. WPY-ET was significantly reduced by lowering irrigation amounts while WPB-ET stayed relatively insensitive to irrigation amounts. However, WPY-ET and WPB-ET behaved consistently when subjected to different N treatments. There was a slight effect of reducing N input from 500 to 300 kg/hm2 on the WPY-ET and WPB-ET, however, when reducing N input to 100 kg/hm2, the values of WPY-ET and WPB-ET were significantly reduced. Water is the primary factor and N is the secondary factor in determining both yield (Y) and final biomass (B). Partial factor productivity from applied N (PFPN) was the maximum under the higher irrigation level and in lower N rate (100-300 kg N/hm2) in both years (2013 and 2014). Lowering the irrigation amount significantly reduced evapotranspiration (ET), but ET did not vary with different N rates (100-500 kg N/hm2). Both Y and B had robust linear relationships with ET, but the correlation between B and ET (R2=0.8588) was much better than that between Y and ET (R2=0.6062). When ET increased, WPY-ET linearly increased and WPB-ET decreased. Taking the indices of Y, B, WPY-ET, WPB-ET and PFPN into account, a higher irrigation level (70%-65% of the field capacity) and a lower N rate (100-300 kg N/hm2) are recommended to be a proper irrigation and N application strategy for plastic film-mulched hybrid maize seed production in arid Northwest China.

Time lag characteristics of sap flow in seed-maize and their implications for modeling transpiration in an arid region of Northwest China
Xiaodong BO, Taisheng DU, Risheng DING, COMAS Louise
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 515-529.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0024-4
Abstract ( 571 )   HTML ( 0 )     PDF (1025KB) ( 1299 )  

Plant capacity for water storage leads to time lags between basal stem sap flow and transpiration in various woody plants. Internal water storage depends on the sizes of woody plants. However, the changes and its influencing factors in time lags of basal stem flow during the development of herbaceous plants including crops remain unclear. A field experiment was conducted in an arid region of Northwest China to examine the time lag characteristics of sap flow in seed-maize and to calibrate the transpiration modeling. Cross-correlation analysis was used to estimate the time lags between stem sap flow and meteorological driving factors including solar radiation (Rs) and vapor pressure deficit of the air (VPDair). Results indicate that the changes in seed-maize stem sap flow consistently lagged behind the changes in Rs and preceded the changes in VPDair both on hourly and daily scales, suggesting that light-mediated stomatal closures drove sap flow responses. The time lag in the maize’s sap flow differed significantly during different growth stages and the difference was potentially due to developmental changes in capacitance tissue and/or xylem during ontogenesis. The time lags between stem sap flow and Rs in both female plants and male plants corresponded to plant use of stored water and were independent of total plant water use. Time lags of sap flow were always longer in male plants than in female plants. Theoretically, dry soil may decrease the speed by which sap flow adjusts ahead of shifts in VPDair in comparison with wet soil and also increase the speed by which sap flow adjusts to Rs. However, sap flow lags that were associated with Rs before irrigation and after irrigation in female plants did not shift. Time series analysis method provided better results for simulating seed-maize sap flow with advantages of allowing for fewer variables to be included. This approach would be helpful in improving the accuracy of estimation for canopy transpiration and conductance using meteorological measurements.

A proposed surface resistance model for the Penman-Monteith formula to estimate evapotranspiration in a solar greenhouse
Xuewen GONG, Hao LIU, Jingsheng SUN, Yang GAO, Xiaoxian ZHANG, K JHA Shiva, Hao ZHANG, Xiaojian MA, Wanning WANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 530-546.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0020-8
Abstract ( 691 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (850KB) ( 1307 )  

Greenhousing is a technique to bridge season gap in vegetable production and has been widely used worldwide. Calculation of water requirement of crops grown in greenhouse and determination of their irrigation schedules in arid and semi-arid regions are essential for greenhouse maintenance and have thus attracted increased attention over the past decades. The most common method used in the literature to estimate crop evapotranspiration (ET) is the Penman-Monteith (PM) formula. When applied to greenhouse, however, it often uses canopy resistance instead of surface resistance. It is understood that the surface resistance in greenhouse is the result of a combined effect of canopy restriction and soil-surface restriction to water vapor flow, and the relative dominance of one restriction over another depends on crop canopy. In this paper, we developed a surface resistance model in a way similar to two parallel resistances in an electrical circuit to account for both restrictions. Also, considering that wind speed in greenhouse is normally rather small, we compared three methods available in the literature to calculate the aerodynamic resistance, which are the ra1 method proposed by Perrier (1975a, b), the ra2 method proposed by Thom and Oliver (1977), and the ra3 method proposed by Zhang and Lemeu (1992). We validated the model against ET of tomatoes in a greenhouse measured from sap flow system combined with micro-lysimeter in 2015 and with weighing lysimeter in 2016. The results showed that the proposed surface resistance model improved the accuracy of the PM model, especially when the leaf area index was low and the greenhouse was being irrigated. We also found that the aerodynamic resistance calculated from the ra1 and ra3 methods is applicable to the greenhouse although the latter is slightly more accurate than the former. The proposed surface resistance model, together with the ra3 method for aerodynamic resistance, offers an improved approach to estimate ET in greenhouse using the PM formula.

Dew measurement and estimation of rain-fed jujube (Zizyphus jujube Mill) in a semi-arid loess hilly region of China
Xing WANG, Zhiyong GAO, Youke WANG, Zhi Wang, Shanshan JIN
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 547-557.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0061-z
Abstract ( 558 )   HTML ( 1 )     PDF (801KB) ( 1017 )  

Dew is an important water source for plants in arid and semi-arid regions. However, information on dew is scarce in such regions. In this study, we explored dew formation, amount, and duration of rain-fed jujube (Zizyphus jujube Mill) trees in a semi-arid loess hilly region of China (i.e., Mizhi County). The data included dew intensity and duration, relative humidity, temperature, and wind speed measured from 26 July to 23 October, 2012 and from 24 June to 17 October, 2013 using a micro-climate system (including dielectric leaf wetness sensors, VP-3 Relative Humidity/Temperature Sensor, High Resolution Rain Gauge, and Davis Cup Anemometer). The results show that atmospheric conditions of relative humidity of >78% and dew point temperature of 1°C-3°C are significantly favorable to dew formation. Compared with the rainfall, dew was characterized by high frequency, strong stability, and long duration. Furthermore, heavy dew accounted for a large proportion of the total amount. The empirical models (i.e., relative humidity model (RH model) and dew point depression model (DPD model)) for daily dew duration estimation performed well at 15-min intervals, with low errors ranging between 1.29 and 1.60 h, respectively. But it should be noted that the models should be calibrated firstly by determining the optimal thresholds of relatively humidity for RH model and dew point depression for DPD model. For rain-fed jujube trees in the semi-arid loess hilly regions of China, the optimal threshold of relative humidity was 78%, and the optimal upper and lower thresholds of dew point depression were 1°C and 5°C, respectively. The study further demonstrates that dew is an important water resource that cannot be ignored for rain-fed jujube trees and may affect water balance at regional scales.

Relative importance of climate factors and human activities in impacting vegetation dynamics during 2000-2015 in the Otindag Sandy Land, northern China
Wenyong MA, Xunming WANG, Na ZHOU, Linlin JIAO
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 558-567.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0062-y
Abstract ( 651 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (1110KB) ( 1278 )  

In recent years, there has been increasing research interests in differentiating the relative importance of climate factors and human activities in impacting vegetation dynamics. In this study, based on residual trend method, we used MOD13A3 (MODIS vegetation index product), MCD12Q1 (MODIS land cover product) and meteorological datasets to differentiate the relative importance of climate factors and human activities in impacting vegetation dynamics during 2000-2015 in the Otindag Sandy Land, northern China. Results show that during the study period (2000-2015), the overall vegetation condition had improved in the Otindag Sandy Land. The driving forces of vegetation dynamics differed spatially in the whole study area over the study period. The area with vegetation degradation solely resulted from human activities accounted for 8.23% of the study area, while the area with vegetation degradation resulted from others (including climate factors and combination of climate factors and human activities) occupied 1.53%. The area with vegetation recovery benefitted from human activities occurred over 26.02% of the study area; the area benefitted from climate factors accounted for 23.69%; and the area benefitted from both climate factors and human activities occupied 37.74%. All in all, impacts of climate factors and human activities on vegetation dynamics varied at the county/city/banner scales and locality-specific measures should be adopted to protect the environments.

Diurnal dynamics of soil respiration and the influencing factors for three land-cover types in the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert, China
Fan YANG, Mamtimin ALI, Xinqian ZHENG, Qing HE, Xinghua YANG, Wen HUO, Fengchao LIANG, Shaoming WANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 568-579.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0060-0
Abstract ( 575 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (1206KB) ( 1294 )  

Knowledge of soil respiration and the influencing factors in desert ecosystems is essential to understanding carbon dynamics and responses of biotic and abiotic processes in soils to climate change. In this study, soil respiration rate (Rs) for three land-cover types (shifting sandy land, sandy land with straw checkerboard barriers, and shelter forest land) in the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert was measured in May 2015 using an automated soil CO2 flux system. The effects of soil temperature (Ts) and soil water content (Ws) on Rs were also analyzed. The results showed that Rs values in shifting sandy land, sandy land with straw checkerboard barriers, and shelter forest land were all low and exhibited obvious diurnal fluctuations. The establishment of straw checkerboard barriers in sandy land had no significant effect on Rs, while the establishment of shelterbelts significantly increased Rs. Shifting sandy land and sandy land with straw checkerboard barriers were carbon sinks at night and early morning and were carbon sources in the daytime, while shelter forest land always acted as a carbon source during the whole day. The synergistic effect of Ts and Ws could better explain the diurnal dynamics in Rs than single factor. In shifting sandy land and sandy land with straw checkerboard barriers, Ws was identified as a limiting factor influencing the diurnal dynamics of Rs. Furthermore, a relatively strong hysteresis loop existed between Rs and Ts. In contrast, in shelter forest land, Rs was significantly influenced by Ts, and a relatively weaker hysteresis loop existed between Rs and Ws.

An experimental study on the influences of wind erosion on water erosion
Huimin YANG, Yuan GAO, Degen LIN, Xueyong ZOU, Jing’ai WANG, Peijun SHI
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 580-590.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0004-8
Abstract ( 690 )   HTML ( 1 )     PDF (669KB) ( 1098 )  

In semi-arid regions, complex erosion resulted from a combination of wind and water actions has led to a massive soil loss and a comprehensive understanding of its mechanism is the first step toward prevention of the erosion. However, the mutual influences between wind erosion and water erosion have not been fully understood. This research used a wind tunnel and two rainfall simulators and simulated two rounds of alternations between wind erosion and water erosion (i.e., 1st wind erosion-1st water erosion and 2nd wind erosion-2nd water erosion) on three slopes (5°, 10°, and 15°) with six wind speeds (0, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 20 m/s) and five rainfall intensities (0, 30, 45, 60, and 75 mm/h). The objective was to analyze the influences of wind erosion on succeeding water erosion. Results showed that the effects of wind erosion on water erosion were not the same in the two rounds of tests. In the 1st round of tests, wind erosion first restrained and then intensified water erosion mostly because the blocking effect of wind-sculpted micro-topography on surface flow was weakened with the increase in slope. In the 2nd round of tests, wind erosion intensified water erosion on beds with no rills at gentle slopes and low rainfall intensities or with large-size rills at steep slopes and high rainfall intensities. Wind erosion restrained water erosion on beds with small rills at moderate slopes and moderate rainfall intensities. The effects were mainly related to the fine grain layer, rills and slope of the original bed in the 2nd round of tests. The findings can deepen our understanding of complex erosion resulted from a combination of wind and water actions and provide scientific references to regional soil and water conservation.

Numerical simulations of flow and sediment transport within the Ning-Meng reach of the Yellow River, northern China
Shentang DOU, Xin YU, Heqiang DU, Fangxiu ZHANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 591-608.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0059-6
Abstract ( 612 )   HTML ( 1 )     PDF (980KB) ( 1103 )  

Effective management of a river reach requires a sound understanding of flow and sediment transport generated by varying natural and artificial runoff conditions. Flow and sediment transport within the Ning-Meng reach of the Yellow River (NMRYR), northern China are controlled by a complex set of factors/processes, mainly including four sets of factors: (1) aeolian sediments from deserts bordering the main stream; (2) inflow of water and sediment from numerous tributaries; (3) impoundment of water by reservoir/hydro-junction; and (4) complex diversion and return of irrigation water. In this study, the 1-D flow & sediment transport model developed by the Yellow River Institute of Hydraulic Research was used to simulate the flow and sediment transport within the NMRYR from 2001 to 2012. All four sets of factors that primarily control the flow and sediment transport mentioned above were considered in this model. Compared to the measured data collected from the hydrological stations along the NMRYR, the simulated flow and sediment transport values were generally acceptable, with relative mean deviation between measured and simulated values of <15%. However, simulated sediment concentration and siltation values within two sub-reaches (i.e., Qingtongxia Reservoir to Bayan Gol Hydrological Station and Bayan Gol Hydrological Station to Toudaoguai Hydrological Station) for some periods exhibited relatively large errors (the relative mean deviations between measured and simulated values of 18% and 25%, respectively). These errors are presumably related to the inability to accurately determine the quantity of aeolian sediment influx to the river reach and the inflow of water from the ten ephemeral tributaries. This study may provide some valuable insights into the numerical simulations of flow and sediment transport in large watersheds and also provide a useful model for the effective management of the NMRYR.

Streamflow responses to climate change and LUCC in a semi-arid watershed of Chinese Loess Plateau
Qingyun LI, Yanwei SUN, Wenlin YUAN, Subing LYU, Fang WAN
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 609-621.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0095-2
Abstract ( 615 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (1053KB) ( 1303 )  

Climate change and Land Use/Cover Change (LUCC) have been identified as two primary factors affecting watershed hydrological regime. This study analyzed the trends of streamflow, precipitation, air temperature and potential evapotranspiration (PET) from 1962 to 2008 in the Jihe watershed in northwestern Loess Plateau of China using the Mann-Kendall test. The streamflow responses to climate change and LUCC were quantified independently by the elasticity method. The results show that the streamflow presented a dramatic decline with a turning point occurred in 1971, while the precipitation and PET did not change significantly. The results also show that the temperature rose markedly especially since 1990s with an approximate increase of 1.74°C over the entire research period (1962-2008). Using land use transition matrix, we found that slope cropland was significantly converted to terrace between 1970s and 1990s and that forest cover increased relatively significantly because of the Grain for Green Project after 2000. The streamflow reduction was predominantly caused by LUCC and its contribution reached up to 90.2%, while the contribution of climate change to streamflow decline was only 9.8%. Although the analytical results between the elasticity method and linear regression model were not satisfactorily consistent, they both indicated that LUCC (human activity) was the major factor causing streamflow decline in the Jihe watershed from 1962 to 2008.

Climate change in the Tianshan and northern Kunlun Mountains based on GCM simulation ensemble with Bayesian model averaging
Jing YANG, Gonghuan FANG, Yaning CHEN, DE-MAEYER Philippe
Journal of Arid Land. 2017, 9 (4): 622-634.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0100-9
Abstract ( 510 )   HTML ( 1 )     PDF (1353KB) ( 1373 )  

Climate change in mountainous regions has significant impacts on hydrological and ecological systems. This research studied the future temperature, precipitation and snowfall in the 21st century for the Tianshan and northern Kunlun Mountains (TKM) based on the general circulation model (GCM) simulation ensemble from the coupled model intercomparison project phase 5 (CMIP5) under the representative concentration pathway (RCP) lower emission scenario RCP4.5 and higher emission scenario RCP8.5 using the Bayesian model averaging (BMA) technique. Results show that (1) BMA significantly outperformed the simple ensemble analysis and BMA mean matches all the three observed climate variables; (2) at the end of the 21st century (2070-2099) under RCP8.5, compared to the control period (1976-2005), annual mean temperature and mean annual precipitation will rise considerably by 4.8°C and 5.2%, respectively, while mean annual snowfall will dramatically decrease by 26.5%; (3) precipitation will increase in the northern Tianshan region while decrease in the Amu Darya Basin. Snowfall will significantly decrease in the western TKM. Mean annual snowfall fraction will also decrease from 0.56 of 1976-2005 to 0.42 of 2070-2099 under RCP8.5; and (4) snowfall shows a high sensitivity to temperature in autumn and spring while a low sensitivity in winter, with the highest sensitivity values occurring at the edge areas of TKM. The projections mean that flood risk will increase and solid water storage will decrease.