Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2022, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (2): 186-195.DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2022.02.002

• Ecosystem and Climate Change • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The 30m-NDVI-based Alpine Grassland Changes and Climate Impacts in the Three-River Headwaters Region on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from 1990 to 2018

SUN Ziyu1,2(), WANG Junbang1,*()   

  1. 1. National Ecosystem Science Data Center, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2021-04-30 Accepted:2021-07-16 Online:2022-03-30 Published:2022-03-09
  • Contact: WANG Junbang
  • About author:SUN Ziyu, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research (STEP) Program(2019QZKK0302);The Joint Research Project of the People’s Government of Qinghai Province and Chinese Academy of Sciences(LHZX-2020-07);The National Natural Science Foundation of China(31971507)


The response of long-term vegetation changes and climate change has been a hot topic in recent research. Previously, a Landsat-based fusion model was developed and used to produce a dataset of normalized vegetation index (NDVI) for the Three-River Headwater region on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with a spatial resolution of 30 m and the time spanning the nearly 30 years from 1990 to 2018. In this study, the NDVI was applied to an analysis of the spatial and temporal changes in the alpine grassland and the impacts from climate change using the Theil-Sen Median method and linear regression. The results showed that: (1) The regional mean NDVI was 0.39 and showed a spatial pattern of decreasing from the southeast to the northwest in the recent three decades. Among the three parks, the Lancang River Park had the highest NDVI (0.43), followed by the Yellow River Park (0.38) and Yangtze River Park (0.23). (2) An upward trending was found in the NDVI time series at a rate of 0.0031 yr-1 (R2 =0.62, P < 0.01) over the whole period of 1990-2018. The increasing rate (0.00649 yr-1, R2 =0.71, P < 0.01) in the latter period of 2005-2018 was nearly 2.3 times of that (0.00284 yr-1, R2 =0.31, P < 0.01) in the previous period of 1990-2005. In the latest periods, the three parks experienced rates that were 2.3 to 63 times the corresponding values in the early period. (3) The NDVI is correlated more positively with temperature than precipitation. The impacts of climate change decreased along with the coverage fraction from the higher, median and then lower levels. The climate change can explain 34% of the variability in the NDVI time series of the areas with a higher fraction of grassland coverage, while it was 31% for the median fraction and 20% for the lower fraction. This study is the first to use the 30 m NDVI dataset spanning nearly 30 years to analyze the spatial and temporal variability and climate impacts in the alpine grasslands of the Three-River Headwater region of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The results provide a basis for assessments on the ecological management effects and ecological quality based on long-term baseline data with a higher spatial resolution.

Key words: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), the Three-River Headwater region, alpine grassland, climate change