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10 April 2019, Volume 11 Issue 2 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Orginal Article
Hydrological and water cycle processes of inland river basins in the arid region of Northwest China
Yaning CHEN, Baofu LI, Yuting FAN, Congjian SUN, Gonghuan FANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 161-179.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0050-5
Abstract ( 295 )   HTML ( 30 )     PDF (636KB) ( 408 )  

The increasing shortage in water resources is a key factor affecting sustainable socio-economic development in the arid region of Northwest China (ARNC). Water shortages also affect the stability of the region's oasis ecosystem. This paper summarizes the hydrological processes and water cycle of inland river basins in the ARNC, focusing on the following aspects: the spatial-temporal features of water resources (including air water vapor resources, runoff, and glacial meltwater) and their driving forces; the characteristics of streamflow composition in the inland river basins; the characteristics and main controlling factors of baseflow in the inland rivers; and anticipated future changes in hydrological processes and water resources. The results indicate that: (1) although the runoff in most inland rivers in the ARNC showed a significant increasing trend, both the glaciated area and glacial ice reserves have been reduced in the mountains; (2) snow melt and glacier melt are extremely important hydrological processes in the ARNC, especially in the Kunlun and Tianshan mountains; (3) baseflow in the inland rivers of the ARNC is the result of climate change and human activities, with the main driving factors being the reduction in forest area and the over-exploitation and utilization of groundwater in the river basins; and (4) the contradictions among water resources, ecology and economy will further increase in the future. The findings of this study might also help strengthen the ecological, economic and social sustainable development in the study region.

Spatial and temporal patterns of drought in Zambia
LIBANDA Brigadier, Mie ZHENG, NGONGA Chilekana
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 180-191.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0053-2
Abstract ( 249 )   HTML ( 13 )     PDF (504KB) ( 504 )  

Drought acutely affects economic sectors, natural habitats and communities. Understanding the past spatial and temporal patterns of drought is crucial because it facilitates the forecasting of future drought occurrences and informs decision-making processes for possible adaptive measures. This is especially important in view of a changing climate. This study employed the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)-recommended standardized precipitation index (SPI) to investigate the spatial and temporal patterns of drought in Zambia from 1960 to 2016. The relationship between the occurrence of consecutive dry days (CDD; consecutive days with less than 1 mm of precipitation) and SPI was also investigated. Horizontal wind vectors at 850 hPa during the core of the rainy season (December-February) were examined to ascertain the patterns of flow during years of extreme and severe drought; and these were contrasted with the patterns of flow in 2007, which was a generally wet year. Pressure vertical velocity was also investigated. Based on the gamma distribution, SPI successfully categorized extremely dry (with a SPI value less than or equal to -2.0) years over Zambia as 1992 and 2015, a severely dry (-1.9 to -1.5) year as 1995, moderately dry (-1.4 to -1.0) years as 1972, 1980, 1987, 1999 and 2005, and 26 near normal years (-0.9 to 0.9). The occurrence of CDD was found to be strongly negatively correlated with SPI with a coefficient of -0.6. Further results suggest that, during wet years, Zambia is influenced by a clockwise circulating low-pressure zone over the south-eastern Angola, a second such zone over the northern and eastern parts, and a third over the Indian Ocean. In stark contrast, years of drought were characterized by an anti-clockwise circulating high-pressure zone over the south-western parts of Zambia, constraining precipitation activities over the country. Further, wet years were characterized by negative pressure vertical velocity anomalies, signifying ascending motion; while drought years were dominated by positive anomalies, signifying descending motion, which suppresses precipitation. These patterns can be used to forecast drought over Zambia and aid in strategic planning to limit the potential damage of drought.

Abrupt temperature change and a warming hiatus from 1951 to 2014 in Inner Mongolia, China
Long MA, Hongyu LI, Tingxi LIU, Longteng LIANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 192-207.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0100-z
Abstract ( 256 )   HTML ( 52 )     PDF (1368KB) ( 375 )  

An abrupt temperature change and a warming hiatus have strongly influenced the global climate. This study focused on these changes in Inner Mongolia, China. This study used the central clustering method, Mann-Kendall mutation test and other methods to explore the abrupt temperature change and warming hiatus in three different temperature zones of the study region based on average annual data series. Among the temperature metrics investigated, average minimum temperature (Tnav) shifted the earliest, followed by average temperature (Tnv) and average maximum temperature (Txav). The latest change was observed in summer (1990s), whereas the earliest was observed in winter (1970s). Before and after the abrupt temperature change, Tnavfluctuatedconsiderably, whereas there was only a slight change in Txav. Before and after the abrupt temperature change, the winter temperature changed more dramatically than the summer temperature. Before the abrupt temperature change, Tnav in the central region (0.322°C/10a) and west region (0.48°C/10a) contributed the most to the increasing temperatures. After the abrupt temperature change, Tnav in winter in the central region (0.519°C/10a) and in autumn in the west region (0.729°C/10a) contributed the most to the temperature increases. Overall, in the years in which temperature shifts occurred early, a warming hiatus also appeared early. The three temperature metrics in spring (1991) in the east region were the first to exhibit a warming hiatus. In the east region, Txav displayed the lowest rate of increase (0.412°C/a) in the period after the abrupt temperature change and before the warming hiatus, and the highest rate of increase after the warming hiatus.

An experimental study on the influences of water erosion on wind erosion in arid and semi-arid regions
Huimin YANG, Xueyong ZOU, Jing'ai WANG, Peijun SHI
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 208-216.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0097-3
Abstract ( 149 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (976KB) ( 284 )  

Complex erosion by wind and water causes serious harm in arid and semi-arid regions.The interaction mechanisms between water erosion and wind erosion is the key to further our understanding of the complex erosion. Therefore, in-depth understandings of the influences of water erosion on wind erosion is needed. This research used a wind tunnel and two rainfall simulators to investigate the influences of water erosion on succeeding wind erosion. The wind erosion measurements before and after water erosion were run on semi-fixed aeolian sandy soil configured with three slopes (5°, 10° and 15°), six wind speeds (0, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 20 m/s), and five rainfall intensities (0, 30, 45, 60 and 75 mm/h). Results showed that water erosion generally restrained the succeeding wind erosion. At a same slope, the restraining effects decreased as rainfall intensity increased, which decreased from 70.63% to 50.20% with rainfall intensity increased from 30 to 75 mm/h. Rills shaped by water erosion could weaken the restraining effects at wind speed exceeding 15 m/s mainly by cutting through the fine grain layer, exposing the sand layer prone to wind erosion to airflow. In addition, the restraining effects varied greatly among different soil types. The restraining effects of rainfall on the succeeding wind erosion depend on the formation of a coarsening layer with a crust and a compactfine grain layer after rainfall. The findings can deepen the understanding of the complex erosionand provide scientific basis for regional soil and water conservation in arid and semi-arid regions.

Fluvial sediments in the Alagxa Plateau as a dust source: iron mineralogical and geochemical evidence
Youjun WANG, Jia JIA, Hao LU, Caichen LU, Dunsheng XIA
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 217-227.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0125-3
Abstract ( 163 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (1594KB) ( 231 )  

The Alagxa Plateau, in the margin of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, is one of the most important dust source areas in East Asia, and the widespread sandy desert in the area is important both as a reservoir and a source of eolian silty. The northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau is one of the most actively-growing mountain belt on earth, and has large amounts of debris, with masses of fine grained material, which were continuously mobilized and deposited in the Alagxa Plateau by rivers, forming broad alluvial fans. It is possible that the role of fluvial sediments as a source of silty dust in the Alagxa Plateau has been underestimated. In this study, we test this hypothesis by investigating the iron mineralogical and geochemical characteristics of the fluvial sediments and the surface material of the sandy desert in the Alagxa Plateau, and comparing them with paleo-eolian dust deposits (loess) in the adjacent Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP) to investigate the possible linkages among the fluvial sediments, sandy desert and the last glacial loess of the CLP. The results show that sandy desert typically have high contents of goethite, and high ratios of goethite to hematite, similar to the fluvial sediments in the Alagxa Plateau. Based on the major element characteristics, field investigations and the results of previous studies, we found a genetic link between the silt component of the fluvial sediments and the sandy desert in the Alagxa Plateau with high value of Gt (goethite) and similarity of the Gt/(Hm (hematite)+Gt) ratio. But the silt component of the sandy desert main come from the adjacent fluvial sediments. The iron mineralogical characteristics (χmagnetic susceptibility, χARM (anhysteretic susceptibility), SIRM (saturation isothermal remanent magnetization) and SIRMAF100mT (SIRM demagnetized at 100 mT)) of the CLP samples overlap with those of the fluvial sediments in the Alagxa Plateau, but there is a mismatch with the sandy desert samples. This suggests that the fluvial sediments are the source of a large amount of silty material which could be transported to the CLP. Therefore, we conclude that the fluvial sediment in the Alagxa Plateau is an important source of eolian silt, which is deposited in downwind region, and that this source has been previously underestimated.

Spatial distribution of water-activesoil layer along the south-north transect in the Loess Plateau of China
Chunlei ZHAO, Ming'an SHAO, Xiaoxu JIA, Laiming HUANG, Yuanjun ZHU
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 228-240.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0051-4
Abstract ( 178 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (787KB) ( 362 )  

Soil water is an important compositionof water recyclein the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. However, intense water exchange between soil-plant and soil-atmosphereinterfacesonly occurs in a certain layer of the soil profile. For deep insight into wateractive layer (WAL, defined as the soil layer with a coefficient of variation in soil water content>10% in a given time domain)inthe Loess Plateau of China,we measuredsoil water content (SWC)in the 0.0-5.0 m soil profile from 86 sampling sites along an approximately 860-kmlong south-north transect during the period 2013-2016. Moreover, a datasetcontainedfourclimatic factors (mean annual precipitation, mean annual evaporation, annual mean temperature and mean annual dryness index) andfivelocalfactors (altitude, slope gradient, land use, clay content and soil organic carbon)ofeachsampling sitewasobtained.Inthisstudy, three WAL indices (WAL-T (the thickness of WAL), WAL-CV (the mean coefficient of variation in SWC within WAL) and WAL-SWC (themean SWC within WAL)) were used to evaluate the characteristics of WAL. The results showed that with increasing latitude, WAL-T and WAL-CV increased firstly and then decreased. WAL-SWC showed an oppositedistribution pattern along the south-north transect compared with WAL-T and WAL-CV. Average WAL-T of the transect was 2.0 m, suggesting intense soil water exchange in the0.0-2.0 m soil layer in the study area. Soil water exchange was deeper and more intense in the middle region than in the southern and northern regions, with the values of WAL-CV and WAL-Tbeing27.3% and 4.3 m in the middle region, respectively. Both climatic (10.1%) and local (4.9%) factors influenced the indices of WAL, with climatic factors having a more dominant effect.Compared with multiple linear regressions, pedotransfer functions (PTFs) from artificial neural network can better estimate theWAL indices. PTFs developed byartificial neural network respectivelyexplained 86%, 81% and 64% of the total variations in WAL-T, WAL-SWC andWAL-CV. Knowledge of WAL iscrucial for understanding the regional water budgetandevaluatingthe stable soil water reserve, regional water characteristics and eco-hydrological processes in the Loess Plateau of China.

Distribution of soil aggregates and organic carbon in deep soil under long-term conservation tillage with residual retention in dryland
Bisheng WANG, Lili GAO, Weishui YU, Xueqin WEI, Jing LI, Shengping LI, Xiaojun SONG, Guopeng LIANG, Dianxiong CAI, Xueping WU
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 241-254.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0094-6
Abstract ( 180 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (389KB) ( 414 )  

To ascertain the effects of long-term conservation tillage and residue retention on soil organic carbon (SOC) content and aggregate distribution in a deep soil (>20-cm depth) in a dryland environment, this paper analyzed the SOC and aggregate distribution in soil, and the aggregate-associated organic carbon (OC) and SOC physical fractions. Conservation tillage (reduced tillage with residue incorporated (RT) and no-tillage with residue mulch (NT)) significantly increased SOC sequestration and soil aggregation in deep soil compared with conventional tillage with residue removal (CT). Compared with CT, RT significantly increased the proportion of small macroaggregates by 23%-81% in the 10-80 cm layer, and the OC content in small macroaggregates by 1%-58% in the 0-80 cm layer. RT significantly increased (by 24%-90%) the OC content in mineral-SOC within small macroaggregates in the 0-60 cm layer, while there was a 23%-80% increase in the 0-40 cm layer with NT. These results indicated that: (1) conservation tillage treatments are beneficial for soil aggregation and SOC sequestration in a deep soil in a dryland environment; and (2) the SOC in mineral-associated OC plays important roles in soil aggregation and SOC sequestration. In conclusion, RT with NT is recommended as an agricultural management tool in dryland soils because of its role in improving soil aggregation and SOC sequestration.

Impact of air drought on photosynthesis efficiency of the Siberian crabapple (Malus baccata L. Borkh.) in the forest-steppe zone of Transbaikalia, Russia
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 255-266.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0006-9
Abstract ( 135 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (272KB) ( 256 )  

The adaption of photosynthesis, being a key metabolic process, plays an important role in plant resistance to air drought. In this study, the Siberian crabapple (Malus baccata L. Borkh.) in the forest-steppe zone of Transbaikalia region, Russia, was subjected to air drought stress and its photosynthesis characteristics were analyzed. The results show that air drought and sufficient soil moisture supply lead to the decrease in the total chlorophyll (Chl) content, while the ratio of Chls to carotenoids is constant in the Siberian crabapple tree. The function of photosystem II (PS-II) in the crabapple trees is characterized by a decrease in the fraction of absorbed light energy spent on the photochemical work and an increase in the proportion of non-photosynthetic thermal quenching. These changes indicate the photosynthetic down-regulation that acts as a universal photoprotective mechanism. During the midday hours, the combination of high air temperature and low air humidity leads to the decrease in the maximum photochemical quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) and the efficiency of photosynthesis (PABS). The parameters of leaf gas exchange show the significant differences in these values between the control and experimental variants. During the morning hours, the Siberian crabapple, growing in the Irkutsk City, assimilates carbon dioxide more intensively. Due to the higher air humidity, the stomata are kept open and the necessary amount of carbon dioxide entries the sites of carboxylation. The low air humidity combined with wind in the experimental variants leads to the unreasonably high water loss in the crabapple leaves by more than 27% as compared to the control variant (Irkutsk City). However, water use efficiency in the morning hours increases during plant photosynthetic processes, i.e., 42% higher than that of control. This, apparently, is a reflection of the adaptation processes of the Siberian crabapple to the air drought and parching wind.

Effects of spring fire and slope on the aboveground biomass, and organic C and N dynamics in a semi-arid grassland of northern China
Xiang ZHAO, Shuya HU, Jie DONG, Min REN, Xiaolin ZHANG, Kuanhu DONG, Changhui WANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 267-279.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0052-3
Abstract ( 125 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (312KB) ( 250 )  

The aboveground primary production is a major source of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pool and plays an important role in regulating the response of ecosystem and nutrient cycling to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. To explore the mechanisms underlying the effect of spring fire and topography on the aboveground biomass (AGB) and the soil C and N pool, we conducted a field experiment between April 2014 and August 2016 in a semi-arid grassland of northern China to examine the effects of slope and spring fire, and their potential interactions on the AGB and organic C and total N contents in different plant functional groups (C3 grasses, C4 grasses, forbs, Artemisia frigida plants, total grasses and total plants). The dynamics of AGB and the contents of organic C and N in the plants were examined in the burned and unburned plots on different slope positions (upper and lower). There were differences in the total AGB of all plants between the two slope positions. The AGB of grasses was higher on the lower slope than on the upper slope in July. On the lower slope, spring fire marginally or significantly increased the AGB of C3 grasses, forbs, total grasses and total plants in June and August, but decreased the AGB of C4 grasses and A. frigida plants from June to August. On the upper slope, however, spring fire significantly increased the AGB of forbs in June, the AGB of C3 grasses and total grasses in July, and the AGB of forbs and C4 grasses in August. Spring fire exhibited no significant effect on the total AGB of all plants on the lower and upper slopes in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, the total AGB in the burned plots showed a decreasing trend after fire burning compared with the unburned plots. The different plant functional groups had different responses to slope positions in terms of organic C and N contents in the plants. The lower and upper slopes differed with respect to the organic C and N contents of C3 grasses, C4 grasses, total grasses, forbs, A. frigida plants and total plants in different growing months. Slope position and spring fire significantly interacted to affect the AGB and organic C and N contents of C4 grasses and A. frigida plants. We observed the AGB and organic C and N contents in the plants in a temporal synchronized pattern. Spring fire affected the functional AGB on different slope positions, likely by altering the organic C and N contents and, therefore, it is an important process for C and N cycling in the semi-arid natural grasslands. The findings of this study would facilitate the simulation of ecosystem C and N cycling in the semi-arid grasslands in northern China.

Is bi-seasonal germination an optimal choice for an ephemeral plant living in a cold desert?
Shanlin YANG, Xiang SHI, Shaoming WANG, Jiashu LIU, Fanxiang MENG, Wei PANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 280-291.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0001-1
Abstract ( 186 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (251KB) ( 245 )  

Research on germination strategies has been proposed as a tool for understanding the evolutionary patterns of plant species living in extreme climate conditions. Previous research has concentrated on spring-germinated plants, while there has been little investigation on the ecological significance of ephemeral plants that germinate in both autumn and spring. The biological characteristics and life history strategies of autumn- and spring-germinated plants of Hypecoum erectum L. that belongs to Hypecoum in Papaveraceae family in the southern part of the Gurbantunggut Desert, China, were investigated from 2016 to 2017. Results showed that: (1) the interval from seedling emergence to the end of the life cycle in autumn-germinated plants (202-208 d) was significantly longer than that in spring-germinated plants (53-65 d); (2) the height, crown, principal axis and the number of leaves of autumn-germinated plants were much greater than those of spring-germinated plants; (3) allocation of dry mass to reproduction was 30.24% (±2.41%) and 10.12% (±0.68%) in autumn- and spring-germinated plants, respectively. Autumn-germinated seedlings of H. erectum had an advantage in avoiding the competition between annual and perennial herbs that had longer periods of vegetative growth. Spring-germinated seedlings need to ensure the survival of population when only a fewer autumn-germinated seedlings successfully overwinter. In an unpredictable environment, the germination strategy of bet hedging not only utilizes the resources and reduces the competition intensity in offspring, but also ensures the survival of the plant population.

Exogenously applied glycinebetaine induced alteration in some key physio-biochemical attributes and plant anatomical features in water stressed oat (Avena sativa L.) plants
SHEHZADI Anum, A AKRAM Nudrat, ALI Ayaz, ASHRAF Muhammad
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 292-305.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0007-8
Abstract ( 173 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (411KB) ( 216 )  

Although exogenous application of glycinebetaine (GB) is widely reported to regulate a myriad of physio-biochemical attributes in plants under stressful environments including drought stress, there is little information available in the literature on how and up to what extent GB can induce changes in anatomical features in water starved plants. Thus, the present research work was conducted to assess the GB-induced changes in growth, physio-biochemical, and anatomical characteristics in two cultivars (CK-1 and F-411) of oat (Avena sativa L.) under limited water supply. After exposure to water stress, a considerable reduction was observed in plant growth in terms of lengths and weights of shoot and roots, leaf mesophyll thickness, leaf midrib thickness, root cortex thickness, root diameter, stem diameter, stem phloem area, and stem vascular bundle area in both oat cultivars. However, water stress resulted in a significant increase in leaf total phenolics, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), ascorbic acid (AsA), GB contents, activities of enzymes (CAT, SOD and POD), total soluble proteins, leaf epidermis (abaxial and adaxial) thickness, bulliform cell area, sclerenchyma thickness, root endodermis and epidermis thickness, root metaxylem area, stem metaxylem area and stem sclerenchyma thickness in both oat cultivars. Foliar-applied 100 mM GB suppressed H2O2 contents, while improved growth attributes, free proline and GB contents, activity of SOD enzyme, leaf abaxial epidermis thickness, leaf bulliform cell area, leaf midrib thickness, leaf sclerenchyma thickness, root cortex thickness, root endodermis, epidermis thickness, root stele diameter, stem diameter, stem epidermis thickness, stem metaxylem area, and stem phloem and vascular bundle area in both oat cultivars. For both oat cultivars, CK-1 was superior to F-411 in leaf abaxial epidermis thickness, leaf mesophyll, leaf sclerenchyma, root metaxylem area, stem diameter, stem epidermis, sclerenchyma thickness, stem metaxylem area, and stem vascular bundle area. Overall, both oat cultivars showed inconsistent behavior to water stress and foliar-applied GB in terms of different physio-biochemical attributes, however, CK-1 was superior to F-411 in a number of anatomical features of leaf, root, and stem.

Conversion of cropland into agroforestry land versus naturally-restored grassland alters soil macro-faunal diversity and trophic structure in the semi-arid agro-pasture zone of northern China
Rentao LIU, STEINBERGER Yosef, Jingwei HOU, Juan ZHAO, Jianan LIU, Haitao CHANG, Jing ZHANG, Yaxi LUO
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 306-317.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0008-7
Abstract ( 131 )   HTML ( 10 )     PDF (227KB) ( 267 )  

Restoration of cropland (termed 'Farm') after abandonment including shrubs (termed 'Shrub'), trees (termed 'Tree') and natural grassland (termed 'Grass') has become a routine process aimed to improve land productivity and control desertification. During this restoration process, soil macro-faunal diversity, and trophic structure were investigated at four types of sites (Farm, Shrub, Tree, and Grass) during growing season in the semi-arid agro-pasture zone of northern China. Results indicated that the Staphylinidae family was found to dominate at the Grass, Shrub, and Tree sites, whiles larval Pyralidae individuals were found at the Grass site only. The density of the omnivores (i.e., Formicidae family) was significantly (P<0.05) greater at the Grass site than at the Tree and Farm sites. The total density and richness of predator and phytophages were found to be markedly (P<0.05) greater at the Grass site than at the Farm site. Meanwhile, we found the taxon richness of predators was significantly (P<0.05) higher at the Shrub site than at the Farm and Tree sites. Compared with the Farm and afforested Shrub/Tree sites, the Grass site had greater density, taxon richness, and Shannon index (P<0.05). In conclusion, natural restoration of abandoned croplands toward grassland was an effective strategy relative to artificial afforestation for improvement of soil biological diversity. Moreover, planting shrub is a preferable measure in abandoned croplands for land development in the semi-arid agro-pasture zone of northern China.

Erratum to: Interaction between climate and management on beta diversity components of vegetation in relation to soil properties in arid and semi-arid oak forests, Iran
Journal of Arid Land. 2019, 11 (2): 318-318.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0010-0
Abstract ( 139 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (17KB) ( 156 )