ShengPei DAI1, Bo ZHANG1, HaiJun WANG2, YaMin WANG1, LingXia GUO1, XingMei WANG1, Dan LI1
NDVI; vegetation cover; climate change; human activity; northwest China
In this paper the spatio-temporal variation of vegetation cover in northwest China during the period of 1982−2006 and its driving factors were analyzed using GIMMS/NDVI data. The annual average NDVI was increased with a rate of 0.0005/a in northwest China and there was an obvious difference between regions. The trend line slopes of NDVI were higher than 0.0005 in the Tianshan Moutains and Altay Mountains of Xinjiang, the Qilian Mountains of Gansu and the eastern part of Qinghai, which indicated the vegetation cover was significantly increased in these areas. The trend line slopes of NDVI were lower than −0.0005 in the southern region of Qinghai, the border regions of Shaanxi and Ningxia, the parts of Gansu and Tarim Basin, Turpan and Tuoli in Xinjiang, which indicated the vegetation cover was declined in these areas. The NDVI of woodland, grassland and cultivated land had an ascending tendency during the study period. The study shows that the vegetation cover change was caused by both natural factors and human activities in northwest China. The natural vegetation change, such as forests was influenced by climate change, while human activities were the main reason to the change of planting vegetation. The changes of vegetation covers for different elevations, slopes and slope aspects were quite different. When the elevation is exceeded to 4,000 m, the NDVI increasing trend was very low; the NDVI at the slope of less than 25° was increased by the ecological construction; the variation of NDVI on sunny slope was stronger than that on shady slope. The temperature rose significantly in recent 25 years in northwest China by an average rate of 0.67ºC/10a, and precipitation increased by an average rate of 8.15 mm/10a after 1986. There was positive correlation between vegetation cover and temperature and annual precipitation changes. Rising temperature increased the evaporation and drought of soils, which is not conducive to plant growth, and the irrigation in agricultural areas reduced the correlation between agricultural vegetation NDVI and precipitation. The improvement of agricultural production level and the projects of ecological construction are very important causes for the NDVI increase in northwest China, and the ecological effect of large-scale ecological construction projects has appeared.