Using the Integrated Biosphere Simulator, a dynamic vegetation model, this study initially simulated the net primary productivity (NPP) dynamics of China’s potential vegetation in the past 55 years (1961-2015) and in the future 35 years (2016-2050). Then, taking the NPP of the potential vegetation in average climate conditions during 1986-2005 as the basis for evaluation, this study examined whether the potential vegetation adapts to climate change or not. Meanwhile, the degree of inadaptability was evaluated. Finally, the NPP vulnerability of the potential vegetation was evaluated by synthesizing the frequency and degrees of inadaptability to climate change. In the past 55 years, the NPP of desert ecosystems in the south of the Tianshan Mountains and grassland ecosystems in the north of China and in western Tibetan Plateau was prone to the effect of climate change. The NPP of most forest ecosystems was not prone to the influence of climate change. The low NPP vulnerability to climate change of the evergreen broad-leaved and coniferous forests was observed. Furthermore, the NPP of the desert ecosystems in the north of the Tianshan Mountains and grassland ecosystems in the central and eastern Tibetan Plateau also had low vulnerability to climate change. In the next 35 years, the NPP vulnerability to climate change would reduce the forest-steppe in the Songliao Plain, the deciduous broad-leaved forests in the warm temperate zone, and the alpine steppe in the central and western Tibetan Plateau. The NPP vulnerability would significantly increase of the temperate desert in the Junggar Basin and the alpine desert in the Kunlun Mountains. The NPP vulnerability of the subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests would also increase. The area of the regions with increased vulnerability would account for 27.5% of China.
Climate change is one of the most important factors that affect vegetation distribution in North China. Among all climatic factors, drought is considered to have the most significant effect on the environment. Based on previous studies, the climate drought index can be used to assess the evolutionary trend of the ecological environment under various arid climatic conditions. It is necessary for us to further explore the relationship between vegetation coverage (index) and climate drought conditions. Therefore, in this study, based on MODIS-NDVI products and meteorological observation data, the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and vegetation coverage in North China were first calculated. Then, the interannual variations of PDSI and vegetation coverage during 2001-2013 were analyzed using a Theil-Sen slope estimator. Finally, an ecoregion perspective of the correlation between them was discussed. The experimental results demonstrated that the PDSI index and vegetation coverage value varied over different ecoregions. During the period 2001-2013, vegetation coverage increased in the southern and northern mountains of North China, while it showed a decreasing trend in the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan City Circle area and suburban agricultural zone located in Hebei Province and Henan Province). Over 13 years, the climate of the northeastern part of North China became more humid, while in the southern part of North China, it tended to be dry. According to the correlation analysis results, 73.37% of North China showed a positive correlation between the vegetation coverage and climate drought index. A negative correlation was observed mainly in urban and suburban areas of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei Province, and Henan Province. In most parts of North China, drought conditions in summer and autumn had a strong influence on vegetation coverage.
The Three-River Headwater Region (TRHR), known as the “Water Tower of China”, is an important ecological shelter for national security interests and regional sustainable development activities for many downstream regions in China and a number of Southeast Asian countries. The TRHR is a high-elevation, cold environment with a unique, but typical alpine vegetation system. Net primary productivity (NPP) is a key vegetation parameter and ecological indicator that can reflect both natural environmental changes and carbon budget levels. Given the unique geographical environment and strategic location of the TRHR, many scholars have estimated NPP of the TRHR by using different methods; however, these estimates vary greatly for a number of reasons. To date, there is no paper that has reviewed and assessed NPP estimation studies conducted in the TRHR. Therefore, in this paper, we (1) summarized the related methods and results of NPP estimation in the TRHR in a systematic review of previous research; (2) discussed the suitability of existing methods for estimating NPP in the TRHR and highlighted the most significant challenges; and (3) assessed the estimated NPP results. Finally, developmental directions of NPP estimation in the TRHR were prospected.
The first-stage of an ecological conservation and restoration project in the Three-River Source Region (TRSR), China, has been in progress for eight years. However, because the ecological effects of this project remain unknown, decision making for future project implementation is hindered. Thus, in this study, we developed an index system to evaluate the effects of the ecological restoration project, by integrating field observations, remote sensing, and process-based models. Effects were assessed using trend analyses of ecosystem structures and services. Results showed positive trends in the TRSR since the beginning of the project, but not yet a return to the optima of the 1970s. Specifically, while continued degradation in grassland has been initially contained, results are still far from the desired objective, ‘grassland coverage increasing by an average of 20%-40%’. In contrast, wetlands and water bodies have generally been restored, while the water conservation and water supply capacity of watersheds have increased. Indeed, the volume of water conservation achieved in the project meets the objective of a 1.32 billion m3 increase. The effects of ecological restoration inside project regions was more significant than outside, and, in addition to climate change projects, we concluded that the implementation of ecological conservation and restoration projects has substantially contributed to vegetation restoration. Nevertheless, the degradation of grasslands has not been fundamentally reversed, and to date the project has not prevented increasing soil erosion. In sum, the effects and challenges of this first-stage project highlight the necessity of continuous and long-term ecosystem conservation efforts in this region.
Global and regional environmental changes such as land use and climate change have significantly integrated and interactive effects on forest. These integrated effects will undoubtedly alter the distribution, function and succession processes of forest ecosystems. In order to adapt to these changes, it is necessary to understand their individual and integrated effects. In this study, we proposed a framework by using coupling models to gain a better understanding of the complex ecological processes. We combined an agent-based model for land use and land cover change (ABM/LUCC), an ecosystem process model (PnET-II), and a forest dynamic landscape model (LANDIS-II) to simulate the change of forest aboveground biomass (AGB) which was driven by land use and climate change factors for the period of 2010-2050 in Taihe County of southern China, where subtropical coniferous plantations dominate. We conducted a series of land use and climate change scenarios to compare the differences in forest AGB. The results show that: (1) land use, including town expansion, deforestation and forest conversion and climate change are likely to influence forest AGB in the near future in Taihe County. (2) Though climate change will make a good contribution to an increase in forest AGB, land use change can result in a rapid decrease in the forest AGB and play a vital role in the integrated simulation. The forest AGB under the integrated scenario decreased by 53.7% (RCP2.6 + land use), 57.2% (RCP4.5 + land use), and 56.9% (RCP8.5 + land use) by 2050, which is in comparison to the results under separate RCPs without land use disturbance. (3) The framework can offer a coupled method to better understand the complex and interactive ecological processes, which may provide some supports for adapting to land use and climate change, improving and optimizing plantation structure and function, and developing measures for sustainable forest management.
This study investigated oasis evolution and the changes of peripheral desert in the Sangong River Basin since the 1950s by rebuilding seven land cover maps derived from black-and-white aerial photographs (1958, 1968, and 1978), a color-infrared aerial photograph (1987), Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery (1998), Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT) imagery (2004), and Landsat Operational Land Imager (OLI) imagery (2014). The results showed that: (1) Since 1950, the oasis consecutively expanded more than four times from an alluvial fan to an alluvial plain, causing the shrinkage of desert landscapes that were dominated by a Haloxylon ammodendron Bunge community (HBC) and a Tamarix chinensis Lour community (TLC). Furthermore, the primary (1958-1968) and final (2004- 2014) stages were the most important periods, during which agricultural land experienced the most rapid expansion during the period 1958-1968, and the built-up area showed the most rapid expansion after the 2000s. (2) Two basic management modes, a “local mode” formed by the local governments and a “farm management mode” developed by Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, together promoted oasis evolution under various land-use and land- cover (LULC) stages. (3) The evolution of the modern oasis during the 1950s-2004 showed the general features of an arid oasis, while during the period of 2004-2014 it was characterized by a large-scale inter-basin water diversion or the import of new water sources. (4) The oasis expanded at the expense of desert vegetation, resulting in distinct variation in the structure of the desert plant community, which will make it more difficult to protect the desert ecosystem.
In this study, we developed a theoretical framework to analyze the provincial differences in eco-compensation and selected appropriate measurement methods to investigate these differences in the operation of the eco-compensation framework. Via the use of the coefficient of variation, Atkinson index, and Gini coefficient, we investigated the overall differences in Chinese provincial eco-compensation time series data from 2004 to 2014 and studied the driving mechanism underlying these differences. The results showed that: (1) The provincial eco-compensation standard has geographical features. For example, the provinces crossed by the “HU Huanyong Line”, or located to its northwestern side, have obtained extensive eco-compensation. (2) There was a trend for differences in eco-compensation to increase over time, but with some fluctuations in 2006, 2009, and 2014 as shown by the coefficient of variation, in 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2014 as shown by the Gini coefficient, and in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012 as shown by the Atkinson index. (3) Time series curves indicated that while the signals from the three metrics (coefficient of variation, Atkinson index, and Gini coefficient) differ in a short-term analysis, they show the same tendency in the longer term. The results indicate that it is necessary to evaluate the differences in eco-compensation at the provincial level over a long period of time. (4) Via the calculation of the virtual Gini coefficient, we found that among the factors that influence provincial differences in eco-compensation, the economic value of eco-resources played the decisive role, explaining more than 73% of the difference. The cost of environmental pollution abatement was the second most important factor, accounting for more than 19% of the difference. The input to environmental pollution abatement had the least influence, accounting for less than 8% of the difference. The results agreed with those obtained from other studies, and could be used as a reference by policy makers.