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10 February 2016, Volume 8 Issue 1 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research Articles
Optically stimulated luminescence dating of sandy deposits from Gulang county at the southern margin of the Tengger Desert, China
PENG Jun, DONG Zhibao, HAN Fengqing
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 1-12.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0137-6
Abstract ( 1686 )     PDF (816KB) ( 2161 )  
Aeolian deposits from the deserts in northern China have been used for palaeoenvironmental research to understand aeolian sedimentology and its dynamic connection to past climate conditions. The Tengger Desert in China is sensitive to the waxing and waning of the monsoonal system. In response to past climate change, the southern margin of the Tengger Desert has evolved significantly since the last glacial period. However, previous attempts to date aeolian deposits in this region were mainly based on radiocarbon dating, which has problems when applied to aeolian deposits. Moreover, sedimentary records are limited. Accordingly, past aeolian activity in this desert remains poorly understood. In the present study, we dated sand samples from Gulang county at the southern margin of the Tengger Desert using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) to understand the history of aeolian activity in this region. Our samples represented well-sorted aeolian sands and sandy loess. Aeolian sands are evidence of dune field buildup and sparse vegetation cover whereas sandy loess is evidence of improved stabilization of sand dunes resulting from ameliorated vegetation cover. Certain samples showed a decline in the equivalent dose (De) values when successive integration intervals were applied, which resulted from unstable OSL signals from non-fast components in the initial part of the decay curve. In order to obtain reliable De estimates, we investigated component-resolved and different background subtraction approaches, and compared the resultant De estimates. We adopted the early background subtraction method to derive De values. Luminescence chronologies and sedimentary records indicated that sand dunes accumulation occurred before 10 ka, and sandy loess developed between 9.5 and 7.6 ka when sand dunes were stabilized as a result of increased effective moisture levels. The transition between sand dune mobilization and stabilization emphasizes the significance of an effective moisture threshold in controlling aeolian activity. Mobilization of sand dunes at ~2.3 ka might be related to an increased aridity during the Late Holocene.
Growth of the Sayram Lake and retreat of its water-supplying glaciers in the Tianshan Mountains from 1972 to 2011
CHENG Weiming, WANG Nan, ZHAO Shangmin, FANG Yue, ZHAO Min
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 13-22.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0139-4
Abstract ( 1359 )     PDF (249KB) ( 2121 )  
Inland lakes and alpine glaciers are important constituents of water resources in arid and semiarid regions. Understanding their variations is critical for both an accurate evaluation of the dynamic changes of water resources and the retrieval of climatic information. On the basis of earlier researches, this study investigated the growth of the Sayram Lake and the retreat of its water-supplying glaciers in the Tianshan Mountains using long-term sequenced remote sensing images. Our results show that over the past 40 years, the surface area and the water level of the lake has increased by 12.0±0.3 km2 and 2.8 m, respectively, and the area of its water-supplying glaciers has decreased continuously since the early 1970s with a total reduction of about –2.13±0.03 km2. Our study has indicative significance to the research of regional climate change.
Spatial patterns of ecosystem vulnerability changes during 2001–2011 in the three-river source region of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China
GUO Bing, ZHOU Yi, ZHU Jinfeng, LIU Wenliang, WANG Futao, WANG Litao, YAN Fuli, WANG Feng, YANG Guang, LUO Wei, JIANG Lin
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 23-35.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0055-7
Abstract ( 1581 )     PDF (578KB) ( 1949 )  
The three-river source region (TRSR, including Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers), located in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China, is a typical alpine zone with apparent ecosystem vulnerability and sensitivity. In this paper, we introduced many interdisciplinary factors, such as landscape pattern indices (Shannon diversity index and Shannon evenness index) and extreme climate factors (number of extreme high temperature days, number of extreme low temperature days, and number of extreme precipitation days), to establish a new model for evaluating the spatial patterns of ecosystem vulnerability changes in the TRSR. The change intensity (CI) of ecosystem vulnerability was also analyzed. The results showed that the established evaluation model was effective and the ecosystem vulnerability in the whole study area was intensive. During the study period of 2001–2011, there was a slight degradation in the eco-environmental quality. The Yellow River source region had the best eco-environmental quality, while the Yangtze River source region had the worst one. In addition, the zones dominated by deserts were the most severely deteriorated areas and the eco-environmental quality of the zones occupied by evergreen coniferous forests showed a better change. Furthermore, the larger the change rates of the climate factors (accumulative temperature of ≥10°C and annual average precipitation) are, the more intensive the CI of ecosystem vulnerability is. This study would provide a scientific basis for the eco-environmental protection and restoration in the TRSR.
Responses of gross primary productivity to different sizes of precipitation events in a temperate grassland ecosystem in Inner Mongolia, China
GUO Qun, LI Shenggong, HU Zhongmin, ZHAO Wei, YU Guirui, SUN Xiaomin, LI Linghao, LIANG Naishen, BAI Wenming
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 36-46.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0136-7
Abstract ( 1908 )     PDF (592KB) ( 2132 )  
Changes in the sizes of precipitation events in the context of global climate change may have profound impacts on ecosystem productivity in arid and semiarid grasslands. However, we still have little knowledge about to what extent grassland productivity will respond to an individual precipitation event. In this study, we quantified the duration, the maximum, and the time-integrated amount of the response of daily gross primary productivity (GPP) to an individual precipitation event and their variations with different sizes of precipitation events in a typical temperate steppe in Inner Mongolia, China. Results showed that the duration of GPP-response (τR) and the maximum absolute GPP-response (GPPmax) increased linearly with the sizes of precipitation events (Pes), driving a corresponding increase in time-integrated amount of the GPP-response (GPPtotal) because variations of GPPtotal were largely explained by τR and GPPmax. The relative contributions of these two parameters to GPPtotal were strongly Pes-dependent. The GPPmax contributed more to the variations of GPPtotal when Pes was relatively small (<20 mm), whereas τR was the main driver to the variations of GPPtotal when Pes was relatively large. In addition, a threshold size of at least 5 mm of precipitation was required to induce a GPP-response for the temperate steppe in this study. Our work has important implications for the modeling community to obtain an advanced understanding of productivity-response of grassland ecosystems to altered precipitation regimes.
Response of soil water dynamics to precipitation years under different vegetation types on the northern Loess Plateau, China
LIU Bingxia, SHAO Ming’an
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 47-59.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0088-y
Abstract ( 1606 )     PDF (509KB) ( 1685 )  
Implementation of the Grain-for-Green project has led to rapid land cover changes and resulted in a signi?cantly increased vegetation cover on the Loess Plateau of China during the past few decades. The main objective of this study was to examine the responses of soil water dynamics under four typical vegetation types against precipitation years. Soil water contents (SWCs) were measured in 0–4.0 m profiles on a hillslope under the four vegetation types of shrub, pasture, natural fallow and crop in a re-vegetated catchment area from April to October in normal (2010), dry (2011), wet (2014) and extremely wet (2013) years. The results indicated that precipitation and vegetation types jointly controlled the soil water temporal dynamics and profile characteristics in the study region. SWCs in 0–4.0 m profiles of the four vegetation types were ranked from high to low as crop>fallow>pasture>shrub and this pattern displayed a temporal stability over the four years. In the extremely wet year, SWC changes occurred in the 0–2.0 m layer under shrub and pasture while the changes further extended to the depth of 4.0-m deep layers under fallow and crop. In the other three years, SWCs changes mainly occurred in the 0–1.0 m layer and kept relatively stable in the layers deeper than 1.0 m for all the four vegetation types. The interannual variation in soil depth of SWCs was about 0–2.0 m for shrub and pasture, about 0–3.4 m for fallow and about 0–4.0 m for crop, respectively. The dried soil layers formed at the depths of 1.0, 0.6, 1.6 and 0.7 m under shrub, and 1.0, 1.0, 2.0 and 0.9 m under pasture, respectively in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. The infiltrated rainwater mostly stayed in the 0–1.0 m layer and hardly supplied to soil depth >1.0 m in normal, dry and wet years. Even in the extremely wet year of 2013, rainwater recharge depth did not exceed 2.0 m under shrub and pasture. This implied that soil desiccation was difficult to remove in normal, dry and wet years, and soil desiccation could be removed in 1.0–2.0 m soil layers even in the extremely wet year under shrub and pasture. The results indicated that the natural fallow was the best vegetation type for achieving sustainable utilization of soil water and preventing soil desiccation.
Tree-ring-based reconstruction of temperature variability (1445–2011) for the upper reaches of the Heihe River Basin, Northwest China
WANG Yamin, FENG Qi, KANG Xingcheng
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 60-76.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0138-5
Abstract ( 1665 )     PDF (475KB) ( 2077 )  
Long-term temperature variability has signi?cant effects on runoff into the upper reaches of inland rivers. This paper developed a tree-ring chronology of Qilian juniper (Sabina przewalskii Kom.) from the upper tree-line of the middle Qilian Mountains within the upper reaches of Heihe River Basin, Northwest China for a long-term reconstruction of temperature at the study site. In this paper, tree-ring chronology was used to examine climate-growth associations considering local climate data obtained from Qilian Meteorological Station. The results showed that temperatures correlated extremely well with standardized growth indices of trees (r=0.564, P<0.001). Tree-ring chronology was highest correlated with annual mean temperature (r=0.641, P<0.0001). Annual mean temperature which spans the period of 1445–2011 was reconstructed and explained 57.8% of the inter-annual to decadal temperature variance at the regional scale for the period 1961–2011. Spatial correlation patterns revealed that reconstructed temperature data and gridded temperature data had a significant correlation on a regional scale, indicating that the reconstruction represents climatic variations for an extended area surrounding the sampling sites. Analysis of the temperature reconstruction indicated that major cold periods occurred during the periods of 1450s–1480s, 1590s–1770s, 1810s–1890s, 1920s–1940s, and 1960s–1970s. Warm intervals occurred during 1490s–1580s, 1780s–1800s, 1900s–1910s, 1950s, and 1980s to present. The coldest 100-year and decadal periods occurred from 1490s–1580s and 1780s–1800s, respectively, while the warmest 100 years within the studied time period was the 20th century. Colder events and intervals coincided with wet or moist conditions in and near the study region. The reconstructed temperature agreed well with other temperature series reconstructed across the surrounding areas, demonstrating that this reconstructed temperature could be used to evaluate regional climate change. Compared to the tree-ring reconstructed temperature from nearby regions and records of glacier fluctuations from the surrounding high mountains, this reconstruction was reliable, and could aid in the evaluation of regional climate variability. Spectral analyses suggested that the reconstructed annual mean temperature variation may be related to large-scale atmospheric–oceanic variability such as the solar activity, Paci?c Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
Soil organic matter amendments in date palm groves of the Middle Eastern and North African region: a mini-review
Rawan MLIH, Roland BOL, Wulf AMELUNG, Nadhem BRAHIM
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 77-92.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0054-8
Abstract ( 1588 )     PDF (447KB) ( 1776 )  
Countries in the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) region are among the most water-scarce regions in the world, and their dryland soils are usually poor in organic carbon content (<0.5%). In this study, we summarize examples of how people in the few oases of the MENA region overcome environmental challenges by sustainably managing economically important date production. On the basis of the limited studies found in the existing literature, this mini-review focuses on the role of traditional soil organic matter amendments beneath the soil surface as a key tool in land restoration. We conclude that soil organic matter amendments can be very successful in restoring soil water and preventing the soil from salinization.
Rangelands of Central Asia: challenges and opportunities
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 93-108.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0057-5
Abstract ( 1477 )     PDF (258KB) ( 2429 )  
Rangelands of Central Asia (referring to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in this study), the largest contiguous area of grazed land in the world, serve as an important source of livelihood for pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in this region. They also play an important role in absorbing CO2 as a global carbon sink. However, unsustainable management of rangelands has led to their degradation hugely by downgrading their potential agro-ecological, environmental and socio-economical roles. This paper reviewed the rangeland degradation in Central Asia, a topic which so far has received only scant coverage in the international scientific literature. It also provided examples of successful experiences and outlined possible options that land managers can adopt to enhance the sustainable management of these vast degraded rangelands. The experiences and lessons described in this paper may also be relevant for other degraded rangeland areas, especially in the developing countries. The causes of rangeland degradation within the Central Asian region are numerous, complex and inter-related. Therefore, while addressing the factors associated with improper rangeland management may shed some light on the causes of rangeland degradation, the scope of this paper would not be all-encompassing for the major causes of degradation. There is a need to develop and widely apply the viable and locally accepted and adapted packages of technical, institutional and policy options for sustainable rangeland management. Incentivizing the collective action of small-scale pastoralists who group together to facilitate access to remote pastures can reduce the degree of overgrazing within community pastures, such as those near the settlements. We also found that migratory grazing through pooling of resources among small-scale pastoralists can increase household income. After their independence, most Central Asian countries adopted various rangeland tenure arrangements. However, the building of enhanced capacities of pasture management and effective local rangeland governance structures can increase the likelihood, which will be sustainable and equitable. Finally, this paper presented several promising technical options, aiming at reversing the trend of rangeland degradation in Central Asia.
Investigating natural drivers of vegetation coverage variation using MODIS imagery in Qinghai, China
ZHOU Lei, LYU Aifeng
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 109-124.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0016-1
Abstract ( 1909 )     PDF (900KB) ( 2181 )  
The climatically sensitive Qinghai province of China has been recognized as a hotspot for studies on the feedbacks of terrestrial ecosystems to global climate change. Thus, investigating vegetation coverage and its natural drivers in Qinghai is an important focus of ecosystem research. On the basis of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) time series data, we estimated the vegetation coverage in this region using the dimidiate pixel model. Trend analyses, correlations between meteorological parameters, changes in vegetation coverage, and the temporal and spatial relationships between soil texture and vegetation coverage were used to investigate the possible drivers of vegetation coverage variations. The results indicated that the reduction of vegetation coverage slowed down in the period from 2000 to 2012. Annual mean temperature was the main climatic driver of the total extremely low and low vegetation coverage areas in Qinghai, followed by the precipitation anomalies. The extremely low and low vegetation coverage areas were mainly distributed in regions with a mean annual relative air humidity of <40% and the spatial distributions of these two area types differentiated along the 200-mm rainfall contours. The total extremely low and low vegetation coverage areas were mainly characterized by sandy clay loam soil, followed by loamy sand and sandy soil. Regions with sandy loam or loam soil have the greatest risk of vegetation coverage reductions. Knowledge of vegetation coverage variation and its natural drivers in the ecologically fragile region of Qinghai can provide scientific support for managing environmental change and desertification.
Vulnerability to drought-induced cavitation in shoots of two typical shrubs in the southern Mu Us Sandy Land, China
LI Yangyang, CHEN Weiyue, CHEN Jiacun, SHI Hui
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 125-137.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0056-6
Abstract ( 1851 )     PDF (653KB) ( 1710 )  
Salix psammophila and Caragana korshinskii are two typical shrubs in the southern Mu Us Sandy Land of China which are threatened by increasing water deficits related to climate change and large-scale human activities (e.g. coal mining and oil exploitation). In this study, we assessed their vulnerability to xylem embolism and the related anatomical traits in two-year-old regenerated shoots of these two shrubs to understand how they cope with drought environment. We also evaluated the in situ hydraulic safety margins to hydraulic failure from measurements of annual predawn and midday leaf water potentials. The results showed that S. psammophila stems had a higher water transport capacity than C. korshinskii stems. The stem xylem water potentials at 12%, 50% and 88% loss of conductivity were –1.11, –1.63 and –2.15 MPa in S. psammophila, respectively, and –1.37, –2.64 and –3.91 MPa in C. korshinskii, respectively. This suggested that C. korshinskii was more resistant to cavitation than S. psammophila. Compared with S. psammophila, C. korshinskii had shorter maximum vessel length, lower vessel density, smaller conductive area and higher wood density, which may contribute to its more resistant xylem. The in situ hydraulic safety margins indicated that even during the driest periods, both shrubs lived well above the most critical embolism thresholds, and the hydraulic safety margin was wider in C. korshinskii than in S. psammophila, suggesting that the regenerated shoots of both shrubs could function normally and C. korshinskii had greater hydraulic protection. These results provide the basis for an in-depth understanding of the survival, growth and functional behavior of these two shrubs under harsh and dry desert environments.
Above- and below-ground biomass and carbon stocks of different tree plantations in central Iran
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 138-145.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0087-z
Abstract ( 1505 )     PDF (292KB) ( 1812 )  
In arid and semi-arid lands using industrial wastewater for irrigating tree plantations offers a great opportunity to fulfill the purpose of Clean Development Mechanism by sequestering carbon in living tissues as well as in soil. Selection of tree for plantation has a great effect on the goal achievements, especially when the managers deal with afforestation projects rather than reforestation projects. The objective of this study was to quantify the above- and below-ground biomass accumulation and carbon storages of the 17-year-old monoculture plantations of mulberry (Morus alba L.), black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.), Eldar pine (Pinus eldarica Medw.) and Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica Greene) planted in central Iran. To assess the potential carbon storage, we destructively measured individual above- and below-ground tree biomass and developed and scaled models at stand level. Furthermore, carbon content at three soil depths (0–15, 15–30, 30–45 cm), the litter and the understory were assessed in sample plots. The results showed that the total amount of carbon stored by Eldar pine (36.8 Mg/hm2) was higher than those stored by the trees in the other three plantations, which were 23.7, 10.0, and 9.6 Mg/hm2 for Arizona cypress, mulberry and black locust plantations, respectively. For all the species, the above-ground biomass accumulations were higher than those of the below-ground. The root mass fractions of the deciduous were larger than those of the coniferous. Accordingly, the results indicate that the potential carbon storages of the coniferous were higher than those of the deciduous in arid regions.
Comparison of three evapotranspiration models with eddy covariance measurements for a Populus euphratica Oliv. forest in an arid region of northwestern China
GAO Guanlong, ZHANG Xiaoyou, YU Tengfei, LIU Bing
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (1): 146-156.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0017-0
Abstract ( 1605 )     PDF (833KB) ( 1837 )  
The accurate estimation of evapotranspiration (ET) in arid regions is important for improving the water use efficiency of vegetation. Based on successive observations from May to October of 2014, we estimated the ET of a Populus euphratica Oliv. forest during the growing season in an extremely arid region using the PM (Penman-Monteith), SW (Shuttleworth-Wallace) and SSW (an improved canopy transpiration model) models. Estimated ET values were compared with those of the eddy covariance measurements. Results indicated that the actual ET of the P. euphratica forest was always overestimated by the PM model. The accuracy of the SW model was higher than that of the PM model. However, some data were not easily obtained because of the complicated structure of the SW model. The newly proposed SSW model gave the most accurate ET values, and its accuracy was higher at hourly than at daily time scale. In conclusion, the SSW model is more suitable for sparse vegetation system at large scales in extremely arid regions.