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Characteristics of vegetation activity and its responses to climate change in desert/grassland biome transition zones in the last 30 years based on GIMMS3g

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Abstract

The vegetation in desert/grassland biome transition zones is part of a fragile ecosystem that is sensitive to climate change. Thus, in recent decades, studying vegetation activity in desert/grassland biome transition zones has become important. Here, vegetation activity and the evolutionary tendencies of the temporal and spatial differentiation of the phenology of the desert/grassland biome transition zones were analyzed based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) of the third-generation Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS3g) dataset. Additionally, the relationship between vegetation activity and climatic factors was analyzed based on NDVI and global meteorological reanalysis data. The results showed that the vegetation phenology of desert/grassland biome transition zones exhibits sharply contrasting characteristics between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, particularly when comparing differences before and after the breakpoint in global climate change (1998). The length of the growing season (LOS) of the Northern Hemisphere was shorter after 1998 than before it, and the integral of the growing season (IOS) of the NDVI decreased correspondingly. By contrast, the LOS in the Southern Hemisphere was longer, and after 1998, the IOS of the NDVI increased compared to its previous value. The vegetation activity trend and the fluctuation of the desert/grassland biome transition zones in the last 30 years can be divided into nine combined modes. However, these features also have an obvious turning point in 1998. The effects of evapotranspiration and precipitation on vegetation activity were most obvious, and these climatic factors drove the phenology changes in the different regions. Global warming limited the vegetation activity in low-latitude areas, but promoted it in middle-latitude areas.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Funding

The present study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation of China (No. 41661003), Natural Science Foundation of Ningxia Province (No. NX16010), First Class Disciplines Program in Western China of Ningxia Province (Ecology, No. NXYLXK2017B06), and “Light of West China” Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. XAB2017AW01).

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Correspondence to Lingtong Du.

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Hou, J., Du, L., Liu, K. et al. Characteristics of vegetation activity and its responses to climate change in desert/grassland biome transition zones in the last 30 years based on GIMMS3g. Theor Appl Climatol 136, 915–928 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-018-2527-0

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