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07 March 2011, Volume 3 Issue 1 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research Articles
The climatic and hydrological changes and environmental responses recorded in lake sediments of Xinjiang, China
Long MA, JingLu WU, Jilili Abuduwaili
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 1-8.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00001
Abstract ( 3060 )     PDF (412KB) ( 2998 )  
Based on the analyses of environmental proxy data in lake sediments and instrumental records of Xinjiang in northwest China, the Holocene climate and hydrological variability and its environmental responses were studied in different time scales and regions. The results showed that the Holocene climate variability had obvious differences between the north and south of Xinjiang. In northern Xinjiang, the Holocene climate was dry in the early period, humid in the middle period, and then changed to dry in the late period. However, the climate transition times were not consistent in different regions. In southern Xinjiang, although there were many different types of climate change patterns inferred from different catchments, the warm and wet climate was recorded in most lake sediments in the middle Holocene. According to comparisons of some millennium scale records in lake sediments, the climate was warm and dry in the past 100 years. It can be concluded the climate showed a trend of aridity in Holocene. Especially in recent 50 years, the lake area has been shrinking rapidly because of the population growth and social economic development, which brings some environmental problems. Lake level and area changes were sensitively affected by the climate variation in geological history of Xinjiang and the lake level will continue to shrink because of the drought climate and strengthened human activities.
Impact factors of soil wind erosion in the center of Taklimakan Desert
Qing HE, XingHua YANG, Ali Mamtimin, ShiHao TANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 9-14.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00009
Abstract ( 3787 )     PDF (239KB) ( 5983 )  
The development and progress of soil wind erosion are influenced by the factors of climate, terrain, soil and vegetation, etc. This paper, taking Tazhong region, a town in the centre of the Taklimakan Desert, as an example and using comparative and quantitative methods, discussed the effects of climate, surface roughness (including vegetation cover) and surface soil properties on soil wind erosion. The results showed that the climate factor index C of annual wind erosion is 28.3, while the maximum of C is 13.9 in summer and it is only 0.7 in winter. The value of C has a very good exponential relationship with the wind speed. In Tazhong region, the surface roughness height is relatively small with a mean of 6.32 × 10-5 m, which is in favor of soil wind erosion. The wind erosion is further enhanced by its sandy soil types, soil particle size, lacking of vegetation and low soil moisture content. The present situation of soil wind erosion is the result of concurrent effects of climate, vegetation and surface soil properties.
Vegetation composition and distribution on the northern slope of Karlik Mountain to Naomaohu basin, East Tianshan Mountains
YiBing QIAN, HaiYan ZHANG, ZhaoNing WU, ZhongChen WANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 15-24.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00015
Abstract ( 3066 )     PDF (331KB) ( 3273 )  
This paper reports the characteristics of plant flora in the region of the northern slope of Karlik Mountain to Naomaohu basin, based on field investigation of the vegetation and referring to relevant literature. The results show that the flora of the study area mainly consists of communities of single species or a limited number of species, genera and families. The flora composition is marked by the phenomenon of dominant families and genera; the temperate element occupies a dominant position, while in terms of the genera the Tethys element is an important component. Areal-types of the species are dominated by the floral element of Asian Central-part with xerophytic characteristic, and the life-forms of plants are mainly perennial and herbaceous. These characteristics reflect that the compositions of the species in this region possess both ancient and young elements. Analysis of the relationship between the species composition, plant community diversity and altitude gradient, we found that the structure of the vegetation has an obvious vertical distribution. The lower and higher altitude areas, where the climate conditions are relative inclement, are mainly occupied by the plant communities with simple structure and single dominant population, while the species richness in the mid-altitude area increases with favorable temperature and precipitation. Consequently, the species diversity and evenness indices show single-peak distribution with increasing elevation (about < 2500 m), while the dominance indices decrease in elevation from 500 m to 2500 m and increase in elevation of > 2500 m.
Vegetation cover change and the driving factors over northwest China
ShengPei DAI, Bo ZHANG, HaiJun WANG, YaMin WANG, LingXia GUO, XingMei WANG, Dan LI
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 25-33.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00025
Abstract ( 6806 )     PDF (468KB) ( 4825 )  
In this paper the spatio-temporal variation of vegetation cover in northwest China during the period of 1982-2006 and its driving factors were analyzed using GIMMS/NDVI data. The annual average NDVI was increased with a rate of 0.0005/a in northwest China and there was an obvious difference between regions. The trend line slopes of NDVI were higher than 0.0005 in the Tianshan Moutains and Altay Mountains of Xinjiang, the Qilian Mountains of Gansu and the eastern part of Qinghai, which indicated the vegetation cover was significantly increased in these areas. The trend line slopes of NDVI were lower than -0.0005 in the southern region of Qinghai, the border regions of Shaanxi and Ningxia, the parts of Gansu and Tarim Basin, Turpan and Tuoli in Xinjiang, which indicated the vegetation cover was declined in these areas. The NDVI of woodland, grassland and cultivated land had an ascending tendency during the study period. The study shows that the vegetation cover change was caused by both natural factors and human activities in northwest China. The natural vegetation change, such as forests was influenced by climate change, while human activities were the main reason to the change of planting vegetation. The changes of vegetation covers for different elevations, slopes and slope aspects were quite different. When the elevation is exceeded to 4,000 m, the NDVI increasing trend was very low; the NDVI at the slope of less than 25° was increased by the ecological construction; the variation of NDVI on sunny slope was stronger than that on shady slope. The temperature rose significantly in recent 25 years in northwest China by an average rate of 0.67oC/10a, and precipitation increased by an average rate of 8.15 mm/10a after 1986. There was positive correlation between vegetation cover and temperature and annual precipitation changes. Rising temperature increased the evaporation and drought of soils, which is not conducive to plant growth, and the irrigation in agricultural areas reduced the correlation between agricultural vegetation NDVI and precipitation. The improvement of agricultural production level and the projects of ecological construction are very important causes for the NDVI increase in northwest China, and the ecological effect of large-scale ecological construction projects has appeared.
Phenotypic plasticity in response to soil moisture availability in the clonal plant Eremosparton songoricum (Litv.) Vass.
JianCheng WANG, Xiang SHI, DaoYuan ZHANG, LinKe YIN
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 34-39.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00034
Abstract ( 2673 )     PDF (189KB) ( 2302 )  
Eremosparton songoricum (Litv.) Vass is a dwarf clonal shrubby legume developed on the windward slopes of mobile or semi-fixed sand dunes of Central Asia. It is assumed that E. songoricum must possess a high degree of phenotypic plasticity for such a heterogeneous habitat. The variations of E. songoricum plants growing in two typical microhabitats (the upper slope and the lower slope of semi-mobile dune) were investigated. The morphological characteristics and the biomass allocation patterns were measured and compared at the clonal fragment level. Compared with the clonal fragment on the lower slope of dune, the clonal fragment on the upper slope of the dune (a) declined in total biomass and ramet height, (b) increased the length of rhizomes and the number of roots, (c) increased the degree of asymmetry, and (d) heightened allocation to the belowground biomass. Our results confirmed the hypothesis of high phenotypic adjustment capacity of E. songoricum to habitat moisture availability. Phenotypic plasticity of E. songoricum contributed to reduce the damage risk, led to an environmentally induced specialization in function of resources exploitation, resulted in its persistence in heterogeneous environments and was adaptive in sand dune environment.
Recommending the IHACRES model for water resources assessment and resolving water conflicts in Africa
Samir Mohammad Ali Alredaisy
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 40-48.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00040
Abstract ( 3344 )     PDF (220KB) ( 3960 )  
The International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) recognized the lack of hydrological data as a world-wide problem in 2002 and adopted the Prediction of Ungauged Basins (PUB) as a decadal research agenda during the period of 2003 to 2012. One of the objectives is to further develop methodologies for prediction in ungauged basins and to reduce uncertainties in model prediction. Estimation of stream flows is required for flood control, water quality control, valley habitat assessment and water budget of a country. However, the majority of water catchments, streams and valleys are ungauged in most developing countries. The main objective of this paper is to introduce the IHACRES (Identification of Hydrographs and Components from Rainfall, Evaporation and Stream) model into African hydrological planning as a methodology for water resources assessment, which in turn can be used to resolve water conflicts between communities and countries and to study the climate change issues. This is because the IHACRES model is applied for the estimation of flows in ungauged catchments whose physical catchments descriptors (PCDs) can be determined by driving variables (i.e. rainfall and temperature); and also in gauged streams but whose gauging stations are no longer operational but historical data are available for model calibration. The model provides a valuable insight into the hydrologic behaviour of the upper water sources for valleys as well as provides a useful methodology for water resources assessment in situations of scarce financial resources in developing countries. In addition, it requires relatively few parameters in its calibration and has been successful applied in previous regionalization studies. It will also make possible the equitable distribution of water resources in international basins and rivers’ catchments. This paper does not apply the model anywhere, but recommends it as a methodology for water resources assessment in order to cure water conflicts on the African continent.
Status and distribution of ungulates in Xinjiang, China
XingYi GAO, WenXuan XU, WeiKang YANG, David A BLANK, JianFang QIAO, KeFen XU
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 49-60.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00049
Abstract ( 3041 )     PDF (205KB) ( 2979 )  
Based on a long-term field investigation and other research results, we reviewed the status and distribution of ungulates in Xinjiang, China. The ungulates in Xinjiang included 19 ungulate species (30 subspecies) from 6 families and 2 orders. Among them, 3 species (2 subspecies) relate to Equidae (Perrisodactyla), and 16 species (28 subspecies) are from 5 families of Artiodactyla. In this paper, we analyzed the conservation status of most rare and important 13 ungulate species. Firstly, we proposed the protection of genetic diversity of Camelus ferus and the distribution areas of Moschus sifanicus, Procapra przewalskii and Saiga tatarica in Xinjiang. We found that Moschus sifanicus but not Procapra przewalskii distributed in Xinjiang. It was not clear whether the remnant populations of Saiga tatarica existed in Xinjiang and China-Kazakhstan border or not. We discussed that the protection level and rational use of Capra sibirica and enhancing protection level and enlarging monitoring and research projects for Pantholops hodgsoni and Gazella subgutturosa. And we would like to suggest Forestry Department to develop the captive breeding of Tibetan antelope for rational use. In addition, the captive breeding of Cervus elaphus in Xinjiang was reviewed. Local government should lessen strong control to Cervus elaphus because of many breeding centers’ establishment.
Biofilter: a promising tool for mitigating methane emission from manure storage
Qiang HUANG, Qiang ZHANG, Nazim CICEK, Danny MANN
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 61-70.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00061
Abstract ( 2939 )     PDF (177KB) ( 4982 )  
Liquid manure storage may contribute to methane (CH4) emission and this emission can be greatly reduced if appropriate management practices are applied. Biofiltration has been used in other fields for mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emission (e.g., landfill) and shown promise for mitigation CH4 emission from liquid manure storage. It has been reported that biofilter was capable of reducing 80% of CH4 emissions from manure storage. The CH4 removal efficiency is influenced by many factors, including CH4 and O2 concentrations, temperature, moisture, composition of the filter bed, nutrient, and empty bed residency time (EBRT). Biological conversion of methane of a biofilter is a slow process due to the low water solubility of methane. The residence times (EBRT) between 5 min and 5 h have been used, whereas a typical EBRT of 25 s is used for common biofilter applications. Temperature at which methanotrophic bacteria are active ranges from 10oC to 45oC. The maximum activity is found at around 30oC. The optimal filter bed water content depends on both the gas flow rate and the type of filter bed (soil, compost, etc.) and ranges from 30%–70% of the water holding capacity. Compost is the best material for filter bed. The optimal pH for methanotrophic bacteria is neutral to slightly acidic. Copper and nitrogen compounds especially nitrate are important nutrients to methanotrophic bacteria but their optimal concentrations have not been founded. Phosphorus and other elements such as potassium and manganese are reported to affect the performance of methanotrophic bacteria but need further confirmation.
Contribution of biodiversity to ecosystem functioning: a non-equilibrium thermodynamic perspective
Journal of Arid Land. 2011, 3 (1): 71-74.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2011.00071
Abstract ( 2707 )     PDF (94KB) ( 2519 )  
Ecosystem stays far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Through the interactions among biotic and abiotic components, and encompassing physical environments, ecosystem forms a dissipative structure that allows it to dissipate energy continuously and thereby remains functional over time. Biotic regulation of energy and material fluxes in and out of the ecosystem allows it to maintain a homeostatic state which corresponds to a self-organized state emerged in a non-equilibrium thermodynamic system. While the associated self-organizational processes approach to homeostatic state, entropy (a measure of irreversibility) degrades and dissipation of energy increases. We propose here that at a homeostatic state of ecosystem, biodiversity which includes both phenotypic and functional diversity, attains optimal values. As long as biodiversity remains within its optimal range, the corresponding homeostatic state is maintained. However, while embedded environmental conditions fluctuate along the gradient of accelerating changes, phenotypic diversity and functional diversity contribute inversely to the associated self-organizing processes. Furthermore, an increase or decrease in biodiversity outside of its optimal range makes the ecosystem vulnerable to transition into a different state.