The onset date of spring phenology (SOS) is regarded as a key parameter for understanding and modeling vegetation–climate interactions. Inner Mongolia has a typical temperate grassland vegetation ecosystem, and has a rich snow cover during winter. Due to climate change, the winter snow cover has undergone significant changes that will inevitably affect the vegetation growth. Therefore, improving our ability to accurately describe the responses of spring grassland vegetation phenology to winter snow cover dynamics would enhance our understanding of changes in terrestrial ecosystems due to their responses to climate changes. In this study, we quantified the spatial-temporal change of SOS by using the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from 1982 to 2015, and explored the relationships between winter snow cover, climate, and SOS across different grassland vegetation types. The results showed that the SOS advanced significantly at a rate of 0.3 days/year. Winter snow cover dynamics presented a significant positive correlation with the SOS, except for the start date of snow cover. Moreover, the relationship with the increasing temperature and precipitation showed a significant negative correlation, except that increasing Tmax
(maximum air temperature) and Tavg
(average air temperature) would lead a delay in SOS for desert steppe ecosystems. Sunshine hours and relative humidity showed a weaker correlation.
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