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NDVI-based vegetation responses to climate change in an arid area of China

Abstract

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and the change of climate variables will eventually have a great impact on vegetation cover and agricultural practices, especially in the arid area Xinjiang in China, whose agriculture and ecosystems are heavily vulnerable to climate change. In this paper, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was used to study the vegetation growth and its response to climate change in Xinjiang. Firstly, two NDVI datasets (Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)) were merged through a pixel-wise regression analysis to obtain a long time series of NDVI data, and then, relationships between yearly NDVI and yearly climate variables, and monthly NDVI and monthly climate variables were extensively investigated for grassland and cropland in northern and southern Xinjiang, respectively. Results show the following: (1) there was an increasing trend in NDVI for both grassland and cropland in both northern and southern Xinjiang over the past decades and trends were significant except that for grassland in northern Xinjiang; (2) precipitation and evaporation were more important than temperature for grassland in northern Xinjiang, while precipitation and temperature were more important than evaporation for grassland in southern Xinjiang and cropland in both northern and southern Xinjiang; (3) NDVI was highly correlated with accumulated monthly precipitation instead of monthly precipitation, and there was a lagged effect of precipitation, temperature, and evaporation on NDVI change. However, lagged effects were only significant in specific months. The results could be helpful to agricultural practices; e.g., based on lagged effect of precipitation, irrigation in July is very important for crop growth.

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Acknowledgments

The research was supported by the “Thousand Youth Talents” Plan (Xinjiang Project). GIMMS NDVI dataset and land use data were downloaded from Environmental and Ecological Science Data Center for West China (http://westdc.westgis.ac.cn). Authors would like to thank Prof. Bodo Ahrens and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments which significantly improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jing Yang.

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Xu, Y., Yang, J. & Chen, Y. NDVI-based vegetation responses to climate change in an arid area of China. Theor Appl Climatol 126, 213–222 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-015-1572-1

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Keywords

  • Normalize Difference Vegetation Index
  • Climate Variable
  • Normalize Difference Vegetation Index Data
  • Normalize Difference Vegetation Index Time Series
  • MODIS Normalize Difference Vegetation Index