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29 February 2024, Volume 16 Issue 2 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research article
Exploring groundwater quality in semi-arid areas of Algeria: Impacts on potable water supply and agricultural sustainability
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (2): 147-167.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0004-4
Abstract ( 35 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (1827KB) ( 153 )  

Groundwater quality assessment is important to assure safe and durable water use. In semi-arid areas of Algeria, groundwater represents the main water resource for drinking water supply of the rural population as well as for irrigation of agricultural lands. Groundwater samples from wells and springs were collected from the Gargaat Tarf and Annk Djemel sub-watersheds of the Oum El Bouaghi, Algeria, and were analyzed and compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Results showed that most of the measured physical and chemical parameters exceeded the quality limits according to the WHO standards. Groundwater had a slightly alkaline water pH (7.00-7.79), electrical conductivity>1500 µS/cm, chloride>500 mg/L, calcium>250 mg/L, and magnesium>155 mg/L. Water quality index (WQI) results showed that 68% of the area had excellent water quality, 24% of the samples fell into good category, and only 8% were of poor quality and unsuitable for human consumption. Six wells in the area showed bacterial contamination. Total coliforms (453.9 (±180.3) CFU (colony-forming units)/100 mL), fecal coliforms (243.2 (±99.2) CFU/100 mL), and fecal streptococci (77.9 (±32.0) CFU/100 mL) loads were above the standard limits set by the WHO. These results confirmed that water resources in the study area were strongly influenced by anthropogenic activities and were not recommended for consumption as drinking water.

Runoff change in the Yellow River Basin of China from 1960 to 2020 and its driving factors
WANG Baoliang, WANG Hongxiang, JIAO Xuyang, HUANG Lintong, CHEN Hao, GUO Wenxian
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (2): 168-194.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0092-1
Abstract ( 30 )   HTML ( 3 )     PDF (3216KB) ( 85 )  

Analysing runoff changes and how these are affected by climate change and human activities is deemed crucial to elucidate the ecological and hydrological response mechanisms of rivers. The Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration and the Range of Variability Approach (IHA-RVA) method, as well as the ecological indicator method, were employed to quantitatively assess the degree of hydrologic change and ecological response processes in the Yellow River Basin from 1960 to 2020. Using Budyko's water heat coupling balance theory, the relative contributions of various driving factors (such as precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, and underlying surface) to runoff changes in the Yellow River Basin were quantitatively evaluated. The results show that the annual average runoff and precipitation in the Yellow River Basin had a downwards trend, whereas the potential evapotranspiration exhibited an upwards trend from 1960 to 2020. In approximately 1985, it was reported that the hydrological regime of the main stream underwent an abrupt change. The degree of hydrological change was observed to gradually increase from upstream to downstream, with a range of 34.00%-54.00%, all of which are moderate changes. However, significant differences have been noted among different ecological indicators, with a fluctuation index of 90.00% at the outlet of downstream hydrological stations, reaching a high level of change. After the mutation, the biodiversity index of flow in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River was generally lower than that in the base period. The research results also indicate that the driving factor for runoff changes in the upper reach of the Yellow River Basin is mainly precipitation, with a contribution rate of 39.31%-54.70%. Moreover, the driving factor for runoff changes in the middle and lower reaches is mainly human activities, having a contribution rate of 63.70%-84.37%. These results can serve as a basis to strengthen the protection and restoration efforts in the Yellow River Basin and further promote the rational development and use of water resources in the Yellow River.

A CMIP6-based assessment of regional climate change in the Chinese Tianshan Mountains
LIU Xinyu, LI Xuemei, ZHANG Zhengrong, ZHAO Kaixin, LI Lanhai
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (2): 195-219.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0053-8
Abstract ( 18 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (4854KB) ( 11 )  

Climate warming profoundly affects hydrological changes, agricultural production, and human society. Arid and semi-arid areas of China are currently displaying a marked trend of warming and wetting. The Chinese Tianshan Mountains (CTM) have a high climate sensitivity, rendering the region particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate warming. In this study, we used monthly average temperature and monthly precipitation data from the CN05.1 gridded dataset (1961-2014) and 24 global climate models (GCMs) of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) to assess the applicability of the CMIP6 GCMs in the CTM at the regional scale. Based on this, we conducted a systematic review of the interannual trends, dry-wet transitions (based on the standardized precipitation index (SPI)), and spatial distribution patterns of climate change in the CTM during 1961-2014. We further projected future temperature and precipitation changes over three terms (near-term (2021-2040), mid-term (2041-2060), and long-term (2081-2100)) relative to the historical period (1961-2014) under four shared socio-economic pathway (SSP) scenarios (i.e., SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5, SSP3-7.0, and SSP5-8.5). It was found that the CTM had experienced significant warming and wetting from 1961 to 2014, and will also experience warming in the future (2021-2100). Substantial warming in 1997 was captured by both the CN05.1 derived from interpolating meteorological station data and the multi-model ensemble (MME) from the CMIP6 GCMs. The MME simulation results indicated an apparent wetting in 2008, which occurred later than the wetting observed from the CN05.1 in 1989. The GCMs generally underestimated spring temperature and overestimated both winter temperature and spring precipitation in the CTM. Warming and wetting are more rapid in the northern part of the CTM. By the end of the 21st century, all the four SSP scenarios project warmer and wetter conditions in the CTM with multiple dry-wet transitions. However, the rise in precipitation fails to counterbalance the drought induced by escalating temperature in the future, so the nature of the drought in the CTM will not change at all. Additionally, the projected summer precipitation shows negative correlation with the radiative forcing. This study holds practical implications for the awareness of climate change and subsequent research in the CTM.

Influence of varied drought types on soil conservation service within the framework of climate change: insights from the Jinghe River Basin, China
BAI Jizhou, LI Jing, RAN Hui, ZHOU Zixiang, DANG Hui, ZHANG Cheng, YU Yuyang
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (2): 220-245.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0070-7
Abstract ( 13 )   HTML ( 3 )     PDF (3403KB) ( 14 )  

Severe soil erosion and drought are the two main factors affecting the ecological security of the Loess Plateau, China. Investigating the influence of drought on soil conservation service is of great importance to regional environmental protection and sustainable development. However, there is little research on the coupling relationship between them. In this study, focusing on the Jinghe River Basin, China as a case study, we conducted a quantitative evaluation on meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural droughts (represented by the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), Standardized Runoff Index (SRI), and Standardized Soil Moisture Index (SSMI), respectively) using the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model, and quantified the soil conservation service using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) in the historical period (2000-2019) and future period (2026-2060) under two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). We further examined the influence of the three types of drought on soil conservation service at annual and seasonal scales. The NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections (NEX-GDDP) dataset was used to predict and model the hydrometeorological elements in the future period under the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. The results showed that in the historical period, annual-scale meteorological drought exhibited the highest intensity, while seasonal-scale drought was generally weakest in autumn and most severe in summer. Drought intensity of all three types of drought will increase over the next 40 years, with a greater increase under the RCP4.5 scenario than under the RCP8.5 scenario. Furthermore, the intra-annual variation in the drought intensity of the three types of drought becomes smaller under the two future scenarios relative to the historical period (2000-2019). Soil conservation service exhibits a distribution pattern characterized by high levels in the southwest and southeast and lower levels in the north, and this pattern has remained consistent both in the historical and future periods. Over the past 20 years, the intra-annual variation indicated peak soil conservation service in summer and lowest level in winter; the total soil conservation of the Jinghe River Basin displayed an upward trend, with the total soil conservation in 2019 being 1.14 times higher than that in 2000. The most substantial impact on soil conservation service arises from annual-scale meteorological drought, which remains consistent both in the historical and future periods. Additionally, at the seasonal scale, meteorological drought exerts the highest influence on soil conservation service in winter and autumn, particularly under the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. Compared to the historical period, the soil conservation service in the Jinghe River Basin will be significantly more affected by drought in the future period in terms of both the affected area and the magnitude of impact. This study conducted beneficial attempts to evaluate and predict the dynamic characteristics of watershed drought and soil conservation service, as well as the response of soil conservation service to different types of drought. Clarifying the interrelationship between the two is the foundation for achieving sustainable development in a relatively arid and severely eroded area such as the Jinghe River Basin.

Land use and cover change and influencing factor analysis in the Shiyang River Basin, China
ZHAO Yaxuan, CAO Bo, SHA Linwei, CHENG Jinquan, ZHAO Xuanru, GUAN Weijin, PAN Baotian
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (2): 246-265.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0071-6
Abstract ( 26 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (2242KB) ( 94 )  

Land use and cover change (LUCC) is the most direct manifestation of the interaction between anthropological activities and the natural environment on Earth's surface, with significant impacts on the environment and social economy. Rapid economic development and climate change have resulted in significant changes in land use and cover. The Shiyang River Basin, located in the eastern part of the Hexi Corridor in China, has undergone significant climate change and LUCC over the past few decades. In this study, we used the random forest classification to obtain the land use and cover datasets of the Shiyang River Basin in 1991, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020 based on Landsat images. We validated the land use and cover data in 2015 from the random forest classification results (this study), the high-resolution dataset of annual global land cover from 2000 to 2015 (AGLC-2000-2015), the global 30 m land cover classification with a fine classification system (GLC_FCS30), and the first Landsat-derived annual China Land Cover Dataset (CLCD) against ground-truth classification results to evaluate the accuracy of the classification results in this study. Furthermore, we explored and compared the spatiotemporal patterns of LUCC in the upper, middle, and lower reaches of the Shiyang River Basin over the past 30 years, and employed the random forest importance ranking method to analyze the influencing factors of LUCC based on natural (evapotranspiration, precipitation, temperature, and surface soil moisture) and anthropogenic (nighttime light, gross domestic product (GDP), and population) factors. The results indicated that the random forest classification results for land use and cover in the Shiyang River Basin in 2015 outperformed the AGLC-2000-2015, GLC_FCS30, and CLCD datasets in both overall and partial validations. Moreover, the classification results in this study exhibited a high level of agreement with the ground truth features. From 1991 to 2020, the area of bare land exhibited a decreasing trend, with changes primarily occurring in the middle and lower reaches of the basin. The area of grassland initially decreased and then increased, with changes occurring mainly in the upper and middle reaches of the basin. In contrast, the area of cropland initially increased and then decreased, with changes occurring in the middle and lower reaches. The LUCC was influenced by both natural and anthropogenic factors. Climatic factors and population contributed significantly to LUCC, and the importance values of evapotranspiration, precipitation, temperature, and population were 22.12%, 32.41%, 21.89%, and 19.65%, respectively. Moreover, policy interventions also played an important role. Land use and cover in the Shiyang River Basin exhibited fluctuating changes over the past 30 years, with the ecological environment improving in the last 10 years. This suggests that governance efforts in the study area have had some effects, and the government can continue to move in this direction in the future. The findings can provide crucial insights for related research and regional sustainable development in the Shiyang River Basin and other similar arid and semi-arid areas.

Effects of landscape fragmentation of plantation forests on carbon storage in the Loess Plateau, China
LEI Hangyu, DUAN Dantong, CHEN Yi, GUO Huifeng, LI Jiangtao, LI Xiang
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (2): 266-281.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0005-3
Abstract ( 22 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (1194KB) ( 12 )  

Tree plantation and forest restoration are the major strategies for enhancing terrestrial carbon sequestration and mitigating climate change. The Grain for Green Project in China has positively impacted global carbon sequestration and the trend towards fragmentation of plantation forests. Limited studies have been conducted on changes in plantation biomass and stand structure caused by fragmentation, and the effect of fragmentation on the carbon storage of plantation forests remains unclear. This study evaluated the differences between carbon storage and stand structure in black locust forests in fragmented and continuous landscape in the Ansai District, China and discussed the effects of ecological significance of four landscape indices on carbon storage and tree density. We used structural equation modelling to explore the direct and indirect effects of fragmentation, edge, abiotic factors, and stand structure on above-ground carbon storage. Diameter at breast height (DBH) in fragmented forests was 53.3% thicker, tree density was 40.9% lower, and carbon storage was 49.8% higher than those in continuous forests; for all given DBH>10 cm, the trees in fragmented forests were shorter than those in continuous forests. The patch area had a negative impact on carbon storage, i.e., the higher the degree of fragmentation, the lower the density of the tree; and fragmentation and distance to edge (DTE) directly increased canopy coverage. However, canopy coverage directly decreased carbon storage, and fragmentation directly increased carbon storage and tree density. In non-commercial forests, fragmentation reduces the carbon storage potential of plantation, and the influence of patch area, edge, and patchy connection on plantation should be considered when follow-up trees are planted and for the plantation management. Thus, expanding the area of plantation patches, repairing the edges of complex-shaped patches, enhancing the connectivity of similar patches, and applying nutrients to plantation forests at regular intervals are recommended in fragmented areas of the Loess Plateau.

Effects of drip and flood irrigation on carbon dioxide exchange and crop growth in the maize ecosystem in the Hetao Irrigation District, China
LI Chaoqun, HAN Wenting, PENG Manman
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (2): 282-297.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0093-0
Abstract ( 21 )   HTML ( 3 )     PDF (2250KB) ( 59 )  

Drip irrigation and flood irrigation are major irrigation methods for maize crops in the Hetao Irrigation District, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China. This research delves into the effects of these irrigation methods on carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange and crop growth in this region. The experimental site was divided into drip and flood irrigation zones. The irrigation schedules of this study aligned with the local commonly used irrigation schedule. We employed a developed chamber system to measure the diurnal CO2 exchange of maize plants during various growth stages under both drip and flood irrigation methods. From May to September in 2020 and 2021, two sets of repeated experiments were conducted. In each experiment, a total of nine measurements of CO2 exchange were performed to obtain carbon exchange data at different growth stages of maize crop. During each CO2 exchange measurement event, CO2 flux data were collected every two hours over a day-long period to capture the diurnal variations in CO2 exchange. During each CO2 exchange measurement event, the biological parameters (aboveground biomass and crop growth rate) of maize and environmental parameters (including air humidity, air temperature, precipitation, soil water content, and photosynthetically active radiation) were measured. The results indicated a V-shaped trend in net ecosystem CO2 exchange in daytime, reducing slowly at night, while the net assimilation rate (net primary productivity) exhibited a contrasting trend. Notably, compared with flood irrigation, drip irrigation demonstrated significantly higher average daily soil CO2 emission and greater average daily CO2 absorption by maize plants. Consequently, within the maize ecosystem, drip irrigation appeared more conducive to absorbing atmospheric CO2. Furthermore, drip irrigation demonstrated a faster crop growth rate and increased aboveground biomass compared with flood irrigation. A strong linear relationship existed between leaf area index and light utilization efficiency, irrespective of the irrigation method. Notably, drip irrigation displayed superior light use efficiency compared with flood irrigation. The final yield results corroborated these findings, indicating that drip irrigation yielded higher harvest index and overall yield than flood irrigation. The results of this study provide a basis for the selection of optimal irrigation methods commonly used in the Hetao Irrigation District. This research also serves as a reference for future irrigation studies that consider measurements of both carbon emissions and yield simultaneously.

Formation and ecological response of sand patches in the protection system of Shapotou section of the Baotou-Lanzhou railway, China
DUN Yaoquan, QU Jianjun, KANG Wenyan, LI Minlan, LIU Bin, WANG Tao, SHAO Mei
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (2): 298-313.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0006-2
Abstract ( 22 )   HTML ( 2 )     PDF (3913KB) ( 12 )  

The development of bare patches typically signifies a process of ecosystem degradation. Within the protection system of Shapotou section of the Baotou-Lanzhou railway, the extensive emergence of bare sand patches poses a threat to both stability and sustainability. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the morphology, dynamic changes, and ecological responses associated with these sand patches. Therefore, we analyzed the formation and development process of sand patches within the protection system and its effects on herbaceous vegetation growth and soil nutrients through field observation, survey, and indoor analysis methods. The results showed that sand patch development can be divided into three stages, i.e., formation, expansion, and stabilization, which correspond to the initial, actively developing, and semi-fixed sand patches, respectively. The average dimensions of all sand patch erosional areas were found to be 7.72 m in length, 3.91 m in width, and 0.32 m in depth. The actively developing sand patches were the largest, and the initial sand patches were the smallest. Throughout the stage of formation and expansion, the herbaceous community composition changed, and the plant density decreased by more than 50.95%. Moreover, the coverage and height of herbaceous plants decreased in the erosional area and slightly increased in the depositional lobe; and the fine particles and nutrients of soils in the erosional area and depositional lobe showed a decreasing trend. In the stabilization phases of sand patches, the area from the inlet to the bottom of sand patches becomes initially covered with crusts. Vegetation and 0-2 cm surface soil condition improved in the erosional area, but this improvement was not yet evident in the depositional lobe. Factors such as disturbance, climate change, and surface resistance to erosion exert notable influences on the formation and dynamics of sand patches. The results can provide evidence for the future treatment of sand patches and the management of the protection system of Shapotou section of the Baotou-Lanzhou railway.