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Effects of Precipitation Intensity and Temperature on NDVI-Based Grass Change over Northern China during the Period from 1982 to 2011

State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 831001, China
School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney 2000, Australia
Graduate School, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100100, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Clement Atzberger and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Remote Sens. 2015, 7(8), 10164-10183;
Received: 1 June 2015 / Revised: 22 June 2015 / Accepted: 3 August 2015 / Published: 10 August 2015
PDF [1967 KB, uploaded 10 August 2015]


The knowledge about impacts of changes in precipitation regimes on terrestrial ecosystems is fundamental to improve our understanding of global environment change, particularly in the context that heavy precipitation is expected to increase according to the 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment. Based on observed climate data and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) satellite-derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), here we analyzed the spatio-temporal changes in grassland NDVI, covering 1.64 × 106 km2, in northern China and their linkages to changes in precipitation and temperature during the period 1982–2011. We found that mean growing season (April–October) grass NDVI is more sensitive to heavy precipitation than to moderate or light precipitation in both relatively arid areas (RAA) and relatively humid areas (RHA), whereas the sensitivities of grass NDVI to temperature are comparable to total precipitation in RHA. Heavy precipitation showed the strongest impacts in more than half of northern China (56%), whereas impacts of light precipitation on grass NDVI were stronger in some areas (21%), mainly distributed in northwestern China, a typical arid and semi-arid area. Our findings suggest that responses of grasslands are divergent with respect to changes in precipitation intensities. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; GIMMS; NDVI; precipitation intensity climate change; GIMMS; NDVI; precipitation intensity

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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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Yuan, X.; Li, L.; Chen, X.; Shi, H. Effects of Precipitation Intensity and Temperature on NDVI-Based Grass Change over Northern China during the Period from 1982 to 2011. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 10164-10183.

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