Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2013, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (1): 45-56.doi: 10.1007/s11442-013-0992-z

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Variation in vegetation greenness in spring across eastern China during 1982-2006

ZHANG Xuezhen, DAI Junhu, GE Quansheng   

  1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2012-06-18 Revised:2012-07-15 Online:2013-02-15 Published:2013-02-07


Vegetation greenness is a key indicator of terrestrial vegetation activity. To understand the variation in vegetation activity in spring across eastern China (EC), we analysed the variation in the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from April to May during 1982-2006. The regional mean NDVI across EC increased at the rate of 0.02/10yr (r2=0.28; p=0.024) prior to 1998; the increase ceased, and the NDVI dropped to a low level thereafter. However, the processes of variation in the NDVI were different from one region to another. In the North China Plain, a cultivated area, the NDVI increased (0.03/10yr; r2=0.52; p<0.001) from 1982 to 2006. In contrast, the NDVI decreased (-0.02/10yr; r2=0.24; p=0.014) consecutively from 1982 to 2006 in the Yangtze River and Pearl River deltas, two regions of rapid urbanisation. In the eastern region of the Inner Mongolian Plateau and the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in East China, the NDVI increased prior to 1998 and decreased thereafter. In the Hulun Buir area and the southern part of the Yangtze River Basin, the NDVI increased prior to 1998 and remained static thereafter. The NDVI in the grasslands and croplands in the semi-humid and semi-arid areas showed a significant positive correlation with precipitation, while the NDVI in the woodlands in the humid to semi-humid areas showed a significant positive correlation with temperature. As much as 60% of the variation in the NDVI was explained by either precipitation or temperature.

Key words: eastern China, spring, vegetation activities, NDVI, spatial heterogeneity