Snow effects on alpine vegetation in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

International Journal of Digital Earth
By: , and 



Understanding the relationships between snow and vegetation is important for interpretation of the responses of alpine ecosystems to climate changes. The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is regarded as an ideal area due to its undisturbed features with low population and relatively high snow cover. We used 500 m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) datasets during 2001–2010 to examine the snow–vegetation relationships, specifically, (1) the influence of snow melting date on vegetation green-up date and (2) the effects of snow cover duration on vegetation greenness. The results showed that the alpine vegetation responded strongly to snow phenology (i.e., snow melting date and snow cover duration) over large areas of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Snow melting date and vegetation green-up date were significantly correlated (p < 0.1) in 39.9% of meadow areas (accounting for 26.2% of vegetated areas) and 36.7% of steppe areas (28.1% of vegetated areas). Vegetation growth was influenced by different seasonal snow cover durations (SCDs) in different regions. Generally, the December–February and March–May SCDs played a significantly role in vegetation growth, both positively and negatively, depending on different water source regions. Snow's positive impact on vegetation was larger than the negative impact.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Snow effects on alpine vegetation in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
Series title International Journal of Digital Earth
DOI 10.1080/17538947.2013.848946
Volume 8
Issue 1
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 18 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title International Journal of Digital Earth
First page 56
Last page 73
Country China
Other Geospatial Qinghai-tibetan Plateau
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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