Evapotranspiration as a response to climate variability and ecosystem changes in southwest, China

Abstract

The aim of our study is to quantify the relationship between ecosystem and climate variables in southwest China. We further examined spatiotemporal distribution patterns of daily reference evapotranspiration (ET0) and ecosystem types through integrated approaches, including spatiotemporal interpolation, Penman–Monteith, Mann–Kendall test, statistical correlation analysis and transition matrix based on those datasets including observation climate data, satellite remote sensing images (MODIS and Landsat) and observed ecosystem data. The following results are achieved. First, changes of ET0 were greatly influenced by the combined effects of precipitation (with a decrease rate of −13 mm/10 years) and temperature (with a decrease rate of + 0.17 ℃/10 years). The annual average ET0 increased by + 2.1 mm/10 years, and the increased ET0 are more than 25% of the total area. Second, evapotranspiration was regarded as a sensitive indicator of climate and ecosystem feedbacks, and these ecosystem types have a great transformation, including forest, agriculture, and grass. Forest and grass were distributed primarily in the southern and eastern mountain areas, grass was in high mountains area while agriculture was prevalent in basin areas respond to climate changes. The area of forest converted to grass was 3670 km2, which was greater than transition from grass to forest (1720 km2). Correlation coefficients of evapotranspiration and NDVI were positive in forest and negative in agriculture. Third, the effects of these changes on climate vegetation and ecosystem process feedbacks on the quickly warming southwest China are potentially significant. Although the variation in ecosystem types was combined effects caused by climate variation and human activities, an effective ecological restoration program “Grain for Green” has improved the environmental conditions in southwest China.

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Acknowledgements

In this research, we are grateful for the assistance of anonymous reviewers and the editor for their invaluable comments to improve this paper. This article was financially supported by Projects of the National Key Research and Development Program (Grant No. 2017YFC0505200; 2017YFC0505205), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41672180), the Project of the Integrated Scientific Expedition of the Ailao-Wuliang Mountains National Park (Grant No. 2019IB018), the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (Grant No. SQ2019QZKK2003), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA23020603), the Science & Technology Basic Resources Investigation Program of China (Grant No. 2017FY101303), the Key Platforms and Scientific Research Projects in Universities in Guangdong Province of China (Grant No. 2018KTSCX212) and the Guangdong Rural Science and Technology Commissioner Project of China (Grant No. 319B0203).

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AM collected the research data, analyzed data and writing—original draft preparation. AM and HH designed the research and provided suggestion to data analyses. AM and HZ generated the figures in the main text. AM, SK, CB, CZ, JW, QH, KA read and edited on the final manuscript. HH, YL, MA, KE contributed greatly to the improvement of the final submission as well as the discussion of the revision work.

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Correspondence to Hongming He or Yu Li.

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Mokhtar, A., He, H., Alsafadi, K. et al. Evapotranspiration as a response to climate variability and ecosystem changes in southwest, China. Environ Earth Sci 79, 312 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-020-09007-1

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Keywords

  • Evapotranspiration
  • Climate change
  • Ecosystem types
  • Ecological restoration
  • NDVI