Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (12): 1953-1964.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1573-y

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Responses of aboveground biomass of alpine grasslands to climate changes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Li WANG1,2,4(), Haiying YU3, Qiang ZHANG1,4,*(), Yunjia XU5,6, Zexing TAO5,6, Juha ALATALO7, Junhu DAI5,6,*()   

  1. 1. College of Atmospheric Science, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
    2. Qinghai Institute of Meteorological Science, Xining 810001, China
    3. College of Agroforestry Engineering and Planning, Tongren University, Tongren 554300, Guizhou, China
    4. Institute of Arid Meteorology, China Meteorological Administration, Lanzhou 730020, China
    5. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    6. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    7. Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha P.O. Box 2713, Qatar
  • Received:2018-05-30 Accepted:2018-07-26 Online:2018-12-20 Published:2018-12-20
  • Contact: Qiang ZHANG,Junhu DAI;;
  • About author:

    Author: Wang Li (1981-), PhD Candidate, specialized in climate change and biological response. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China, No.2018YFA0606102; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41771056; National Key Technology Support Program, No.2012BAH31B02


Aboveground biomass in grasslands of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has displayed an overall increasing trend during 2003-2016, which is profoundly influenced by climate change. However, the responses of different biomes show large discrepancies, in both size and magnitude. By applying partial least squares regression, we calculated the correlation between peak aboveground biomass and mean monthly temperature and monthly total precipitation in the preceding 12 months for three different grassland types (alpine steppe, alpine meadow, and temperate steppe) on the central and eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The results showed that mean temperature in most preceding months was positively correlated with peak aboveground biomass of alpine meadow and alpine steppe, while mean temperature in the preceding October and February to June was significantly negatively correlated with peak aboveground biomass of temperate steppe. Precipitation in all months had a promoting effect on biomass of alpine meadow, but its correlations with biomass of alpine steppe and temperate steppe were inconsistent. It is worth noting that, in a warmer, wetter climate, peak aboveground biomass of alpine meadow would increase more than that of alpine steppe, while that of temperate steppe would decrease significantly, providing support for the hypothesis of conservative growth strategies by vegetation in stressed ecosystems.

Key words: grasslands, aboveground biomass, partial least squares, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, climate change