Since the implementation of the Grain for Green Project (GFGP) in the 1990s, the warming and wetting trend in the Loess Plateau is becoming statistically significant in the context of climate change. However, the correlation between precipitation increase and the regional vegetation restoration is still controversial. To explore the main factors influencing the regional precipitation change, this study selected five potential influencing factors including potential evapotranspiration (PET), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), precipitable water (PW), surface temperature (ST), and water vapor transport (WVT). We used the statistical methods to analyze the spatial-temporal distribution of precipitation before and after the GFGP and to quantify the relative influence degree of different factors to precipitation change. The results show that: (1) The precipitation increased significantly (95% confidence level) after the GFGP, with an increase rate of 4.96 mm a−1
; (2) from the perspective of spatial-temporal distribution, the precipitation in the southern part of the Loess plateau was significantly increasing with an increase rate of 20–50 mm in the period of 2000–2014; (3) the relative influence degree of NDVI to precipitation increased after the GFGP, and the annual precipitation (PREA
) and summer precipitation (PRES
) was more influenced by NDVI (relative influence degree of 30.18% and 31.37%, respectively) compared with winter precipitation. In winter, the PW and the PET are the main influencing factors for the precipitation change with relative influence degrees of 30.13% and 27.64%, respectively. Based on this study, we speculate that the warming and wetting trend of the Loess Plateau in recent years is not only closely related to global climate change, but also significantly affected by local climate change brought by vegetation restoration. The above conclusions are important for future ecological restoration and water resources management in the water-scarce Loess Plateau.
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