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Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010095

Vegetation Changes along the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Engineering Corridor Since 2000 Induced by Climate Change and Human Activities

1,* , 2,* and 3
1
State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an 710061, China
2
Key Laboratory of Highway Construction & Maintenance Technology in Permafrost Regions, Ministry of Transport, CCCC First Highway Consultants Co., Ltd., Xi’an 710065, China
3
Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 September 2017 / Revised: 28 December 2017 / Accepted: 10 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Abstract

The Qinghai-Tibet (QT) Plateau Engineering Corridor is located in the hinterland of the QT Plateau, which is highly sensitive to global climate change. Climate change causes permafrost degradation, which subsequently affects vegetation growth. This study focused on the vegetation dynamics and their relationships with climate change and human activities in the region surrounding the QT Plateau Engineering Corridor. The vegetation changes were inferred by applying trend analysis, the Mann-Kendall trend test and abrupt change analysis. Six key regions, each containing 40 nested quadrats that ranged in size from 500 × 500 m to 20 × 20 km, were selected to determine the spatial scales of the impacts from different factors. Cumulative growing season integrated enhanced vegetation index (CGSIEVI) values were calculated for each of the nested quadrats of different sizes to indicate the overall vegetation state over the entire year at different spatial scales. The impacts from human activities, a sudden increase in precipitation and permafrost degradation were quantified at different spatial scales using the CGSIEVI values and meteorological data based on the double mass curve method. Three conclusions were derived. First, the vegetation displayed a significant increasing trend over 23.6% of the study area. The areas displaying increases were mainly distributed in the Hoh Xil. Of the area where the vegetation displayed a significant decreasing trend, 72.4% was made up of alpine meadows. Second, more vegetation, especially the alpine meadows, has begun to degenerate or experience more rapid degradation since 2007 due to permafrost degradation and overgrazing. Finally, an active layer depth of 3 m to 3.2 m represents a limiting depth for alpine meadows. View Full-Text
Keywords: permafrost degradation; human activities; vegetation change; scale effect; Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Engineering Corridor permafrost degradation; human activities; vegetation change; scale effect; Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Engineering Corridor
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Song, Y.; Jin, L.; Wang, H. Vegetation Changes along the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Engineering Corridor Since 2000 Induced by Climate Change and Human Activities. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 95.

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