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Long-Term Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Terrestrial Biophysical Variables in the Three-River Headwaters Region of China from Satellite and Meteorological Datasets

1
State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2
Faculty of Geo-Information and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, Enschede 7500 AE, The Netherlands
3
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(14), 1633; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11141633
Received: 19 June 2019 / Revised: 5 July 2019 / Accepted: 8 July 2019 / Published: 10 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Applications in Monitoring of Protected Areas)
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Abstract

Terrestrial biophysical variables play an essential role in quantifying the amount of energy budget, water cycle, and carbon sink over the Three-River Headwaters Region of China (TRHR). However, direct field observations are missing in this region, and few studies have focused on the long-term spatiotemporal variations of terrestrial biophysical variables. In this study, we evaluated the spatiotemporal dynamics of biophysical variables including meteorological variables, vegetation, and evapotranspiration (ET) over the TRHR, and analyzed the response of vegetation and ET to climate change in the period from 1982 to 2015. The main input gridded datasets included meteorological reanalysis data, a satellite-based vegetation index dataset, and the ET product developed by a process-based Priestley–Taylor algorithm. Our results illustrate that: (1) The air temperature and precipitation over the TRHR increased by 0.597 °C and 41.1 mm per decade, respectively, while the relative humidity and surface downward shortwave radiation declined at a rate of 0.9% and 1.8 W/m2 per decade during the period 1982–2015, respectively. We also found that a ‘dryer warming’ tendency and a ‘wetter warming’ tendency existed in different areas of the TRHR. (2) Due to the predominant ‘wetter warming’ tendency characterized by the increasing temperature and precipitation, more than 56.8% of areas in the TRHR presented a significant increment in vegetation (0.0051/decade, p < 0.05), particularly in the northern and western meadow areas. When energy was the limiting factor for vegetation growth, temperature was a considerably more important driving factor than precipitation. (3) The annual ET of the TRHR increased by 3.34 mm/decade (p < 0.05) with an annual mean of 230.23 mm/year. More importantly, our analysis noted that ET was governed by terrestrial water supply, e.g., soil moisture and precipitation in the arid region of the western TRHR. By contrast, atmospheric evaporative demand derived by temperature and relative humidity was the primary controlling factor over the humid region of the southeastern TRHR. It was noted that land management activities, e.g., irrigation, also had a nonnegligible impact on the temporal and spatial variation of ET. View Full-Text
Keywords: terrestrial biophysical variables; Three-River Headwaters Region of China; spatiotemporal dynamics; climate change; vegetation index; evapotranspiration terrestrial biophysical variables; Three-River Headwaters Region of China; spatiotemporal dynamics; climate change; vegetation index; evapotranspiration
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Bei, X.; Yao, Y.; Zhang, L.; Xu, T.; Jia, K.; Zhang, X.; Shang, K.; Xu, J.; Chen, X. Long-Term Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Terrestrial Biophysical Variables in the Three-River Headwaters Region of China from Satellite and Meteorological Datasets. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1633.

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