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Open AccessArticle

Changes in Vegetation Growth Dynamics and Relations with Climate over China’s Landmass from 1982 to 2011

State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A, Datun Road, Beijing 100049, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
School of Environment Science and Spatial Informatics, China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou 221116, China
Department of Forest Resource Management, University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
School of Resource and Environmental Science, Wuhan University, 129 Luoyu Road, Wuhan 430079, China
Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(4), 3263-3283;
Received: 24 January 2014 / Revised: 27 February 2014 / Accepted: 27 March 2014 / Published: 10 April 2014
Understanding how the dynamics of vegetation growth respond to climate change at different temporal and spatial scales is critical to projecting future ecosystem dynamics and the adaptation of ecosystems to global change. In this study, we investigated vegetated growth dynamics (annual productivity, seasonality and the minimum amount of vegetated cover) in China and their relations with climatic factors during 1982–2011, using the updated Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) third generation global satellite Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) dataset and climate data acquired from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Major findings are as follows: (1) annual mean NDVI over China significantly increased by about 0.0006 per year from 1982 to 2011; (2) of the vegetated area in China, over 33% experienced a significant positive trend in vegetation growth, mostly located in central and southern China; about 21% experienced a significant positive trend in growth seasonality, most of which occurred in northern China (>35°N); (3) changes in vegetation growth dynamics were significantly correlated with air temperature and precipitation (p < 0.001) at a region scale; (4) at the country scale, changes in NDVI was significantly and positively correlated with annual air temperature (r = 0.52, p < 0.01) and not associated with annual precipitation (p > 0.1); (5) of the vegetated area, about 24% showed significant correlations between annual mean NDVI and air temperature (93% positive and remainder negative), and 12% showed significant correlations of annual mean NDVI with annual precipitation (65% positive and 35% negative). The spatiotemporal variations in vegetation growth dynamics were controlled primarily by temperature and secondly by precipitation. Vegetation growth was also affected by human activities; and (6) monthly NDVI was significantly correlated with the preceding month’s temperature and precipitation in western, central and northern China. The effects of a climate lag of more than two months in southern China may be caused mainly by the abundance of precipitation. These findings suggest that continuing efforts to monitor vegetation changes (in situ and satellite observations) over time and at broad scales are greatly needed, and are critical for the management of ecosystems and adapting to global climatic changes. It is likewise difficult to predict well future vegetation growth without linking these observations to mechanistic terrestrial ecosystem processes models that integrate all the satellite and in situ observations. View Full-Text
Keywords: vegetation growth dynamics; trends in NDVI; turning point; NDVI-climate relations; China vegetation growth dynamics; trends in NDVI; turning point; NDVI-climate relations; China
MDPI and ACS Style

Xu, G.; Zhang, H.; Chen, B.; Zhang, H.; Innes, J.L.; Wang, G.; Yan, J.; Zheng, Y.; Zhu, Z.; Myneni, R.B. Changes in Vegetation Growth Dynamics and Relations with Climate over China’s Landmass from 1982 to 2011. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 3263-3283.

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