A risk assessment of vegetation zone responses to climate change was conducted using the classical Holdridge life zone model on the Loess Plateau of Northwest China. The results show that there are currently ten vegetation zones occurring on the Loess Plateau (1950–2000), including alvar desert, alpine wet tundra, alpine rain tundra, boreal moist forest, boreal wet forest, cool temperate desert, cool temperate desert scrub, cool temperate steppe, cool temperate moist forest, warm temperate desert scrub, warm temperate thorn steppe, and warm temperate dry forest. Seventy years later (2070S), the alvar desert, the alpine wet tundra and the cool temperate desert will disappear, while warm temperate desert scrub and warm temperate thorn steppe will emerge. The area proportion of warm temperate dry forest will expand from 12.2% to 22.8%–37.2%, while that of cool temperate moist forest will decrease from 18.5% to 6.9%–9.5%. The area proportion of cool temperate steppe will decrease from 51.8% to 34.5%–51.6%. Our results suggest that future climate change will be conducive to the growth and expansion of forest zones on the Loess Plateau, which can provide valuable reference information for regional vegetation restoration planning and adaptive strategies in this region.
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