The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau has been experiencing a distinct warming trend, and climate warming has a direct and quick impact on the alpine grassland ecosystem. We detected the greenness trend of the grasslands in the plateau using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data from 2000 to 2009. Weather station data were used to explore the climatic drivers for vegetation greenness variations. The results demonstrated that the region-wide averaged normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) increased at a rate of 0.036 yr−1. Approximately 20% of the vegetation areas, which were primarily located in the northeastern plateau, exhibited significant NDVI increase trend (p-value <0.05). Only 4% of the vegetated area showed significant decrease trends, which were mostly in the central and southwestern plateau. A strong positive relationship between NDVI and precipitation, especially in the northeastern plateau, suggested that precipitation was a favorable factor for the grassland NDVI. Negative correlations between NDVI and temperature, especially in the southern plateau, indicated that higher temperature adversely affected the grassland growth. Although a warming climate was expected to be beneficial to the vegetation growth in cold regions, the grasslands in the central and southwestern plateau showed a decrease in trends influenced by increased temperature coupled with decreased precipitation.
Additional publication details
Vegetation greenness trend (2000 to 2009) and the climate controls in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
Journal of Applied Remote Sensing
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center