The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Influence of climatic factors on variation in the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index in Mongolian Plateau grasslands

Xu-Juan Cao A B , Qing-Zhu Gao A B , Ganjurjav Hasbagan A B , Yan Liang A B , Wen-Han Li A B and Guo-Zheng Hu A B C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science, Beijing 100081, China.

B Key Laboratory for Agro-Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing 100081, China.

C Corresponding author. Email: huguozheng@caas.cn

The Rangeland Journal - https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ16073
Submitted: 2 August 2016  Accepted: 15 August 2017   Published online: 24 October 2017

Abstract

Climate change will affect how the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is correlated with climate factors, varies in space and over time. The Mongolian Plateau is an arid and semi-arid area, 64% covered by grassland, which is extremely sensitive to climate change. Its climate has shown a warming and drying trend at both annual and seasonal scales. We analysed NDVI and climate variation characteristics and the relationships between them for Mongolian Plateau grasslands from 1981 to 2013. The results showed spatial and temporal differences in the variation of NDVI. Precipitation showed the strongest correlation with NDVI (43% of plateau area correlated with total annual precipitation and 44% with total precipitation in the growing season, from May to September), followed by potential evapotranspiration (27% annual, and 30% growing season), temperature (7% annual, 16% growing season) and cloud cover (10% annual, 12% growing season). These findings confirm that moisture is the most important limiting factor for grassland vegetation growth on the Mongolian Plateau. Changes in land use help to explain variations in NDVI in 40% of the plateau, where no correlation with climate factors was found. Our results indicate that vegetation primary productivity will decrease if warming and drying trends continue but decreases will be less substantial if further warming, predicted as highly likely, is not accompanied by further drying, for which predictions are less certain. Continuing spatial and temporal variability can be expected, including as a result of land use changes.

Additional keywords: climate variation, cloud, GIMMS, potential evapotranspiration, precipitation, temperature.


References

Bao, G., Bao, Y. H., Qin, Z. H., Zhou, Y., and Shiirev, A. (2013). Vegetation cover changes in Mongolian plateau and its response to seasonal climate changes in recent 10 years. Scientia Geographica Sinica 33, 613–621.

Bat-oyun, T., Shinoda, M., and Tsubo, M. (2012). Effects of cloud, atmospheric water vapour and dust on photosynthetically active radiation and total solar radiation in a Mongolian grassland. Journal of Arid Land 4, 349–356.
Effects of cloud, atmospheric water vapour and dust on photosynthetically active radiation and total solar radiation in a Mongolian grassland.CrossRef |

Chen, Q., Zhang, J., and Yang, L. (2007). GIS description of the Chinese ecotone between farming and animal husbandry. Journal – Lanzhou University Natural Sciences 43, 24.

Di, L., Rundquist, D. C., and Han, L. (1994). Modelling relationships between NDVI and precipitation during vegetative growth cycles. International Journal of Remote Sensing 15, 2121–2136.
Modelling relationships between NDVI and precipitation during vegetative growth cycles.CrossRef |

Escolar, C., Maestre, F. T., and Rey, A. (2015). Biocrusts modulate warming and rainfall exclusion effects on soil respiration in a semi-arid grassland. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 80, 9–17.
Biocrusts modulate warming and rainfall exclusion effects on soil respiration in a semi-arid grassland.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2cXhs1ymu7zF&md5=f818cc5f0c5a5cc19d23cf81ec9c8fb3CAS |

Gao, Q. Z., Wan, Y. F., Xu, H. M., Li, Y., Jiangcun, W. Z., and Borjigidai, A. (2010). Alpine grassland degradation index and its response to recent climate variability in Northern Tibet, China. Quaternary International 226, 143–150.
Alpine grassland degradation index and its response to recent climate variability in Northern Tibet, China.CrossRef |

Gao, J. G., Zhang, Y. L., Liu, L. S., and Wang, Z. F. (2014). Climate change as the major driver of alpine grasslands expansion and contraction: A case study in the Mt. Qomolangma (Everest) National Nature Preserve, southern Tibetan Plateau. Quaternary International 336, 108–116.
Climate change as the major driver of alpine grasslands expansion and contraction: A case study in the Mt. Qomolangma (Everest) National Nature Preserve, southern Tibetan Plateau.CrossRef |

Gessner, U., Naeimi, V., Klein, I., Kuenzer, C., Klein, D., and Dech, S. (2013). The relationship between precipitation anomalies and satellite-derived vegetation activity in Central Asia. Global and Planetary Change 110, 74–87.
The relationship between precipitation anomalies and satellite-derived vegetation activity in Central Asia.CrossRef |

Guo, N. (2003). Vegetation index and its advances. Arid Meteorology 21, 71–75.

Guo, L., Wu, S., Zhao, D., Yin, Y., Leng, G., and Zhang, Q. (2014). NDVI-based vegetation change in Inner Mongolia from 1982 to 2006 and its relationship to climate at the biome scale. Advances in Meteorology 2014, 1–12.
NDVI-based vegetation change in Inner Mongolia from 1982 to 2006 and its relationship to climate at the biome scale.CrossRef |

Harrison, S. P., Gornish, E. S., and Copeland, S. (2015). Climate-driven diversity loss in a grassland community. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112, 8672–8677.
Climate-driven diversity loss in a grassland community.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2MXhtVOhsbnK&md5=be8161493c470e75735b6954cd44f257CAS |

He, Y., Dong, W. J., Guo, X. Y., and Dan, L. (2007). The terrestrial growth and its relationship with climate in China based on the MODIS data. Acta Ecologica Sinica 27, 5086–5092.
The terrestrial growth and its relationship with climate in China based on the MODIS data.CrossRef |

Hilker, T., Natsagdorj, E., Waring, R. H., Lyapustin, A., and Wang, Y. (2014). Satellite observed widespread decline in Mongolian grasslands largely due to overgrazing. Global Change Biology 20, 418–428.
Satellite observed widespread decline in Mongolian grasslands largely due to overgrazing.CrossRef |

Horion, S., Cornet, Y., Erpicum, M., and Tychon, B. (2013). Studying interactions between climate variability and vegetation dynamic using a phenology based approach. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 20, 20–32.
Studying interactions between climate variability and vegetation dynamic using a phenology based approach.CrossRef |

IPCC (2013). Summary for Policymakers. In: ‘Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’. (Eds T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P. M. Midgley.) (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK and New York, USA.)

Lee, R., Yu, F., Price, K. P., Ellis, J., and Shi, P. (2002). Evaluating vegetation phenological patterns in Inner Mongolia using NDVI time-series analysis. International Journal of Remote Sensing 23, 2505–2512.
Evaluating vegetation phenological patterns in Inner Mongolia using NDVI time-series analysis.CrossRef |

Li, Y. H. (2014). ‘Responses of Plant Community Structure and Function to Warming and Nitrogen Addition in a Desert Steppe on Inner Mongolia.’ (Agricultural University of the Inner Mongolia: Hohhot, China.) [in Chinese].

Li, S., Xie, Y., Brown, D. G., Bai, Y., Hua, J., and Judd, K. (2013). Spatial variability of the adaptation of grassland vegetation to climatic change in Inner Mongolia of China. Applied Geography 43, 1–12.
Spatial variability of the adaptation of grassland vegetation to climatic change in Inner Mongolia of China.CrossRef |

Liu, Y. Y., Evans, J. P., McCabe, M. F., de Jeu, R. A., van Dijk, A. I., Dolman, A. J., and Saizen, I. (2013). Changing climate and overgrazing are decimating Mongolian steppes. PLoS One 8, e57599.
Changing climate and overgrazing are decimating Mongolian steppes.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3sXjslykurk%3D&md5=574c647e552e9b3e4041f7a5998638bfCAS |

Ma, W., Fang, J., Yang, Y., and Mohammat, A. (2010). Biomass carbon stocks and their changes in northern China’s grasslands during 1982–2006. Science China. Life Sciences 53, 841–850.
Biomass carbon stocks and their changes in northern China’s grasslands during 1982–2006.CrossRef |

Mowll, W., Blumenthal, D. M., Cherwin, K., Smith, A., Symstad, A. J., Vermeire, L. T., Collins, S. L., Smith, M. D., and Knapp, A. K. (2015). Climatic controls of aboveground net primary production in semi-arid grasslands along a latitudinal gradient portend low sensitivity to warming. Oecologia 177, 959–969.
Climatic controls of aboveground net primary production in semi-arid grasslands along a latitudinal gradient portend low sensitivity to warming.CrossRef |

Mu, S., Zhou, S., Chen, Y., Li, J., Ju, W., and Odeh, I. O. A. (2013). Assessing the impact of restoration-induced land conversion and management alternatives on net primary productivity in Inner Mongolian grassland, China. Global and Planetary Change 108, 29–41.
Assessing the impact of restoration-induced land conversion and management alternatives on net primary productivity in Inner Mongolian grassland, China.CrossRef |

Peng, S., Chen, A., Xu, L., Cao, C., Fang, J., Myneni, R. B., Pinzon, J. E., Tucker, C. J., and Piao, S. L. (2011). Recent change of vegetation growth trend in China. Environmental Research Letters 6, 044027.
Recent change of vegetation growth trend in China.CrossRef |

Piao, S. L., Mohammat, A., Fang, J. Y., Cai, Q., and Feng, J. M. (2006). NDVI-based increase in growth of temperate grasslands and its responses to climate changes in China. Global Environmental Change 16, 340–348.
NDVI-based increase in growth of temperate grasslands and its responses to climate changes in China.CrossRef |

Pinzon, J., Brown, M. E., and Tucker, C. J. (2005). EMD correction of orbital drift artifacts in satellite data stream. In: ‘Hilbert-Huang Transform and its Applications’. (Eds N. Huang and S. P. Shen.) pp. 167–186. (World Scientific: Singapore, Hackensack, and London.)

Reed, B. C., Brown, J. F., VanderZee, D., Loveland, T. R., Merchant, J. W., and Ohlen, D. O. (1994). Measuring phenological variability from satellite imagery. Journal of Vegetation Science 5, 703–714.
Measuring phenological variability from satellite imagery.CrossRef |

Sheng, G. L., Harazono, Y., Oikawa, T., Zhao, H. L., Zong, Y. H., and Xue, L. C. (2000). Grassland desertification by grazing and the resulting micrometeorological changes in Inner Mongolia. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 102, 125–137.

Sternberg, T., Tsolmon, R., Middleton, N., and Thomas, D. (2011). Tracking desertification on the Mongolian steppe through NDVI and field-survey data. International Journal of Digital Earth 4, 50–64.
Tracking desertification on the Mongolian steppe through NDVI and field-survey data.CrossRef |

Tao, S., Fang, J, Zhao, X., Zhao, S., Shen, H., Hu, H., Tang, Z., Wang, Z., and Guo, Q. (2015). Rapid loss of lakes on the Mongolian Plateau. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112, 2281–2286.
Rapid loss of lakes on the Mongolian Plateau.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2MXhvFCgs7k%3D&md5=95f27f44fc80e800329078d2a5383143CAS |

Tian, Q., and Min, X. (1998). Advances in study on vegetation indices. Advances in Earth Sciences 13, 327–333.

Tian, F., Herzschuh, U., Mischke, S., and Schlütz, F. (2014). What drives the recent intensified vegetation degradation in Mongolia – Climate change or human activity? The Holocene 24, 1206–1215.
What drives the recent intensified vegetation degradation in Mongolia – Climate change or human activity?CrossRef |

Tian, H. J., Cao, C. X., Chen, W., Bao, S. N., Yang, B., and Myneni, R. B. (2015). Response of vegetation activity dynamic to climatic change and ecological restoration programs in Inner Mongolia from 2000 to 2012. Ecological Engineering 82, 276–289.
Response of vegetation activity dynamic to climatic change and ecological restoration programs in Inner Mongolia from 2000 to 2012.CrossRef |

Tucker, C. J., Pinzon, J. E., and Brown, M. E. (2004). Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies, NA94apr15b.n11-VIg, 2.0, Global Land Cover Facility, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA, 04/15/1994. Available at: http://staff.glcf.umd.edu/sns/branch/htdocs.sns/data/gimms/index.shtml (accessed 5 September 2015).

Tucker, C. J., Pinzon, J. E., Brown, M. E., Slayback, D., Pak, E. W., Mahoney, R., Vermote, E., and El Saleous, N. (2005). An Extended AVHRR 8-km NDVI data set compatible with MODIS and SPOT vegetation NDVI data. International Journal of Remote Sensing 26, 4485–4498.
An Extended AVHRR 8-km NDVI data set compatible with MODIS and SPOT vegetation NDVI data.CrossRef |

UEA CRU (University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit) (2013). CRU TS3.21: Climatic Research Unit (CRU) Time-Series (TS) Version 3.21 of High Resolution Gridded Data of Month-by-month Variation in Climate (Jan. 1901–Dec. 2012). (Eds P. D. Jones and I. C. Harris.)

Wang, J., Brown, D. G., and Chen, J. (2013). Drivers of the dynamics in net primary productivity across ecological zones on the Mongolian Plateau. Landscape Ecology 28, 725–739.
Drivers of the dynamics in net primary productivity across ecological zones on the Mongolian Plateau.CrossRef |

Wei, W., Gao, W., Shi, S. L., Tian, Q. S., and Yu, F. C. (2012). Ecosystem change analysis of agriculture and animal husbandry regions in last ten years: a case study in Taipusi, Inner Mongolia. Acta Agrestia Sinica 1, 31–38.

Weiß, M., and Menzel, L. (2008). A global comparison of four potential evapotranspiration equations and their relevance to stream flow modelling in semi-arid environments. Advances in Geosciences 18, 15–23.
A global comparison of four potential evapotranspiration equations and their relevance to stream flow modelling in semi-arid environments.CrossRef |

Wever, L. A., Flanagan, L. B., and Carlson, P. J. (2002). Seasonal and interannual variation in evapotranspiration, energy balance and surface conductance in a northern temperate grassland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 112, 31–49.
Seasonal and interannual variation in evapotranspiration, energy balance and surface conductance in a northern temperate grassland.CrossRef |

Woodward, F. I., and McKee, I. F. (1991). Vegetation and climate. Environment International 17, 535–546.
Vegetation and climate.CrossRef |

Yang, L., Wylie, B. K., Tieszen, L. L., and Reed, B. C. (1998). An analysis of relationships among climate forcing and time-integrated NDVI of grasslands over the US northern and central Great Plains. Remote Sensing of Environment 65, 25–37.
An analysis of relationships among climate forcing and time-integrated NDVI of grasslands over the US northern and central Great Plains.CrossRef |

Yang, Y., Xu, J., Hong, Y., and Lv, G. (2012). The dynamic of vegetation coverage and its response to climate factors in Inner Mongolia, China. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment 26, 357–373.
The dynamic of vegetation coverage and its response to climate factors in Inner Mongolia, China.CrossRef |

Yin, R., Yin, G., and Li, L. (2010). Assessing China’s ecological restoration programs: what’s been done and what remains to be done? Environmental Management 45, 442–453.
Assessing China’s ecological restoration programs: what’s been done and what remains to be done?CrossRef |

Zhang, C., and Yang, C. (2007). Simulation of growth dynamics of four plants in the typical steppe of Inner Mongolia in growing season. Acta Ecologica Sinica 27, 3618–3629.

Zhang, X., Hu, Y., Zhuang, D., Qi, Y., and Ma, X. (2009). NDVI spatial pattern and its differentiation on the Mongolian Plateau. Journal of Geographical Sciences 19, 403–415.
NDVI spatial pattern and its differentiation on the Mongolian Plateau.CrossRef |

Zhao, X., Hu, H., Shen, H., Zhou, D., Zhou, L., Myneni, R. B., and Fang, J. (2015). Satellite-indicated long-term vegetation changes and their drivers on the Mongolian Plateau. Landscape Ecology 30, 1599–1611.
Satellite-indicated long-term vegetation changes and their drivers on the Mongolian Plateau.CrossRef |



Export Citation