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Climate 2015, 3(3), 697-714;

Grassland Growth in Response to Climate Variability in the Upper Indus Basin, Pakistan

Department of Remote Sensing and GIS, Asian Institute of Technology, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu 44700, Nepal
Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Urumqi 830011, China
Chengdu Institute of Biology (CIB), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Chengdu 610041, China
Institute of Agricultural and Resource Economics, The University of Agriculture, Faisalabad 38040, Pakistan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Nir Y. Krakauer and Tarendra Lakhankar
Received: 29 May 2015 / Revised: 7 July 2015 / Accepted: 21 July 2015 / Published: 25 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Impacts of Climate Change)
PDF [790 KB, uploaded 25 August 2015]


Grasslands in the upper Indus basin provide a resource base for nomadic livestock grazing which is one of the major traditional livelihood practices in the area. The study presents climate patterns, grassland phenology, productivity and spatio-temporal climate controls on grassland growth using satellite data over the upper Indus basin of the Himalayan region, Pakistan. Phenology and productivity metrics of the grasses were estimated using a combination of derivative and threshold methods applied on fitted seasonal vegetation indices data over the period of 2001–2011. Satellite based rainfall and land surface temperature data are considered as representative explanatory variables to climate variability. The results showed distinct phenology and productivity patterns across four bioclimatic regions: (i) humid subtropical region (HSR)—late start and early end of season with short length of season and low productivity (ii) temperate region (TR)—early start and late end of season with higher length of season and moderate productivity (iii) sub alpine region (SAR)—late start and late end of season with very high length of season and the most productive grasses, and (iv) alpine region (AR)—late start and early end of season with small length of season and least productive grasses. Grassland productivity is constrained by temperature in the alpine region and by rainfall in the humid sub-tropical region. Spring temperature, winter and summer rainfall has shown significant and varied impact on phenology across different altitudes. The productivity is being influenced by summer and annual rainfall in humid subtropical regions, spring temperature in alpine and sub-alpine regions and both temperature and rainfall are contributing in temperate regions. The results revealing a strong relationship between grassland dynamics and climate variability put forth strong signals for drawing more scientific management of rangelands in the area. View Full-Text
Keywords: phenology; rangelands; climate variability; MODIS phenology; rangelands; climate variability; MODIS

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Abbas, S.; Qamer, F.M.; Murthy, M.S.; Tripathi, N.K.; Ning, W.; Sharma, E.; Ali, G. Grassland Growth in Response to Climate Variability in the Upper Indus Basin, Pakistan. Climate 2015, 3, 697-714.

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