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Impacts of climate change and human activities on grassland vegetation variation in the Chinese Loess Plateau

Zheng, Kai, Wei, Jian-Zhou, Pei, Jiu-Ying, Cheng, Hua, Zhang, Xu-Long, Huang, Fu-Qiang, Li, Feng-Min, Ye, Jian-Sheng
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.660 pp. 236-244
anthropogenic activities, biomass, climate change, grasslands, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, net primary productivity, normalized difference vegetation index, soil erosion, surveys, vegetation cover, China
China initiated the “Grain for Green Project” in 1999 to mitigate soil erosion. The vegetation cover of the Chinese Loess Plateau, one of the most erosive regions in the world, has been greatly increased. However, studies on quantitatively investigating the climate change and human activities on vegetation coverage change were rare. In this study, spatio-temporal changes in vegetation coverage were investigated using MODIS normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data over 2000–2016. And a new method was introduced using Net Primary Productivity (NPP) model and relationship between NPP and NDVI to quantitatively and spatially distinguish the NDVI affected by climate change and human activities. Results showed that mean NDVI value over 2009–2016 were 14.46% greater than that over 2000–2007. In order to quantify the contribution of climate change and human activities to vegetation change, an NPP model suitable for the grassland of the Chinese Loess Plateau was identified using biomass observations from field survey and literature. The NDVI affected by climate change (NDVIclimate) was estimated by the NPP model and the relationship between NPP and NDVI. And the NDVI affected by human activities (NDVIhuman) was calculated by actual NDVI minus NDVIclimate. Comparison of the two stages showed that human activities and climate change contributed 42.35% and 57.65% respectively to the ΔNDVI on grassland in the Loess Plateau. After analysis of numerous NDVIhuman related factors, the slopes restored by the “Grain for Green Project” was considered the main influence factor of human activities.