The contribution of climatic change and anthropogenic activities to vegetation productivity are not fully understood. In this study, we determined potential climate-driven gross primary production (GPPp) using a process-based terrestrial ecosystem model, and actual gross primary production (GPPa) using MODIS Approach in alpine grasslands on the Tibetan Plateau from 2000 to 2015. The GPPa was influenced by both climatic change and anthropogenic activities. Gross primary production caused by anthropogenic activities (GPPh) was calculated as the difference between GPPp and GPPa. Approximately 75.63% and 24.37% of the area percentages of GPPa showed increasing and decreasing trends, respectively. Climatic change and anthropogenic activities were dominant factors responsible for approximately 42.90% and 32.72% of the increasing area percentage of GPPa, respectively. In contrast, climatic change and anthropogenic activities were responsible for approximately 16.88% and 7.49% of the decreasing area percentages of GPPa, respectively. The absolute values of the change trends of GPPp and GPPh of meadows were greater than those of steppes. The GPPp change values were greater than those of GPPh at all elevations, whereas both GPPp and GPPh showed decreasing trends when elevations were greater than or equal to 5000 m, 4600 m and 4800 m in meadows, steppes and all grasslands, respectively. Climatic change had stronger effects on the GPPa changes when elevations were lower than 5000 m, 4600 m and 4800 m in meadows, steppes and all grasslands, respectively. In contrast, anthropogenic activities had stronger effects on the GPPa changes when elevations were greater than or equal to 5000 m, 4600 m and 4800 m in meadows, steppes and all grasslands, respectively. Therefore, the causes of actual gross primary production changes varied with elevations, regions and grassland types, and grassland classification management should be considered on the Tibetan Plateau.
Soil erosion poses a great threat to the sustainability of the ecological environment and the harmonious development of human well-being. The revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) was used to quantify soil erosion in the Three-River Headwaters region (TRH), Qinghai, China from 2000 to 2015. The possible effects of an ecosystem restoration project on soil erosion were explored against the background of climatic changes in the study area. The model was validated with on-ground observations and showed a satisfactory performance, with a multiple correlation coefficient of 0.62 from the linear regression between the estimations and observations. The soil erosion modulus in 2010-2015 increased 6.2%, but decreased 1.2% compared with those in the periods of 2000-2005 and 2005-2010, respectively. Based on the method of overlay analysis, the interannual change of the estimated soil erosion was dominated by climate (about 64%), specifically by precipitation, rather than by vegetation coverage (about 34%). Despite some uncertainties in the model and data, this study quantified the relative contribution of ecological restoration under global climatic change; meanwhile the complexity, labor-intensiveness and long-range character of ecological restoration projects have to be recognized. On-ground observations over the long-term, further parameterization, and data inputs with higher quality are necessary and essential for decreasing the uncertainties in the estimations.
Extreme climate events play an important role in studies of long-term climate change. As the Earth’s Third Pole, the Tibetan Plateau (TP) is sensitive to climate change and variation. In this study on the TP, the spatiotemporal changes in climate extreme indices (CEIs) are analyzed based on daily maximum and minimum surface air temperatures and precipitation at 98 meteorological stations, most with elevations of at least 4000 m above sea level, during 1960-2012. Fifteen temperature extreme indices (TEIs) and eight precipitation extreme indices (PEIs) were calculated. Then, their long-term change patterns, from spatial and temporal perspectives, were determined at regional, eco-regional and station levels. The entire TP region exhibits a significant warming trend, as reflected by the TEIs. The regional cold days and nights show decreasing trends at rates of -8.9 d (10 yr)-1 (days per decade) and -17.3 d (10 yr)-1, respectively. The corresponding warm days and nights have increased by 7.6 d (10 yr)-1 and 12.5 d (10 yr)-1, respectively. At the station level, the majority of stations indicate statistically significant trends for all TEIs, but they show spatial heterogeneity. The eco-regional TEIs show patterns that are consistent with the entire TP. The growing season has become longer at a rate of 5.3 d (10 yr)-1. The abrupt change points for CEIs were examined, and they were mainly distributed during the 1980s and 1990s. The PEIs on the TP exhibit clear fluctuations and increasing trends with small magnitudes. The annual total precipitation has increased by 2.8 mm (10 yr)-1 (not statistically significant). Most of the CEIs will maintain a persistent trend, as indicated by their Hurst exponents. The developing trends of the CEIs do not show a corresponding change with increasing altitude. In general, the warming trends demonstrate an asymmetric pattern reflected by the rapid increase in the warming trends of the cold TEIs, which are of greater magnitudes than those of the warm TEIs. This finding indicates a positive shift in the distribution of the daily minimum temperatures throughout the TP. Most of the PEIs show weak increasing trends, which are not statistically significant. This work aims to delineate a comprehensive picture of the extreme climate conditions over the TP that can enhance our understanding of its changing climate.
Based on vegetation survey data and environmental data of the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin, we conducted a quantitative ecological analysis of the vegetation community composition and the relationship between species and the environment in the study area. The results showed that 44 sampling sites and 68 plant species in the study area can be classified into seven subtypes: Artemisia minor + Stipa purpurea; Artemisia demissa + Stipa purpurea + Artemisia wellbyi; Kobresia pygmaea; Trikeraia hookeri; Sophora moorcroftiana + Cotoneaster multiflorus + Pennisetum centrasiaticum; Artemisia frigida; Potentilla fruticosa + Orinus thoroldii. Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) indicated that both longitude and altitude play important roles in site and species distribution patterns. In addition, canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) revealed that in the upper and middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin, changes in temperature and precipitation caused by longitude are the main factors controlling the formation and transition of vegetation community types. Moreover, natural vegetation could be divided into three types: desert steppe community (source area), alpine steppe community (middle reaches region), and shrub community (confluence of Yarlung Zangbo River and Nyangqu River).
The Three-River Headwaters (TRH), which is the source area of Yangtze River, Yellow River and Lancang River, is vulnerable and sensitive, and its alpine ecosystem is considered an important barrier for China’s ecological security. Understanding the impact of climate changes is essential for determining suitable measures for ecological environmental protection and restoration against the background of global climatic changes. However, different explanations of the interannual trends in complex alpine ecosystems have been proposed due to limited availability of reliable data and the uncertainty of the model itself. In this study, the remote sensing-process coupled model (GLOPEM-CEVSA) was used to estimate the net primary productivity (NPP) of vegetation in the TRH region from 2000 to 2012. The estimated NPP significantly and linearly correlated with the above-ground biomass sampled in the field (the multiple correlative coefficient R2 = 0.45, significant level P < 0.01) and showed better performance than the MODIS productivity product, i.e. MOD17A3, (R2 = 0.21). The climate of TRH became warmer and wetter during 1990-2012, and the years 2000 to 2012 were warmer and wetter than the years1990-2000. Responding to the warmer and wetter climate, the NPP had an increasing trend of 13.7 g m-2 (10 yr)-1 with a statistical confidence of 86% (P = 0.14). Among the three basins, the NPP of the Yellow River basin increased at the fastest rate of 17.44 g m-2 (10 yr)-1 (P = 0.158), followed by the Yangtze River basin, and the Lancang River, which was the slowest with a rate of 12.2 g m-2 (10 yr)-1 and a statistical confidence level of only 67%. A multivariate linear regression with temperature and precipitation as the independent variables and NPP as the dependent variable at the pixel level was used to analyze the impacts of climatic changes on the trend of NPP. Both temperature and precipitation can explain the interannual variability of 83% in grassland NPP in the whole region, and can explain high, medium and low coverage of 78%, 84% and 83%, respectively, for grassland in the whole region. The results indicate that climate changes play a dominant role in the interannual trend of vegetation productivity in the alpine ecosystems on Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. This has important implications for the formulation of ecological protection and restoration policies for vulnerable ecosystems against the background of global climate changes.
No studies have examined the effect of experimental warming on the microbial biomass and community composition of soil in agricultural ecosystem on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Thus it is unclear whether the influences of experimental warming on microbial communities in soil are related to warming magnitude in croplands on this Plateau. This study performed warming experiment (control, low- and high-level) in a highland barley system of the Lhasa River in May 2014 to examine the correlation between the response of microbial communities in soil to warming and warming magnitude. Topsoil samples (0-10 and 10-20 cm) were collected on September 14, 2014. Experimental warming at both low and high levels significantly increased soil temperature by 1.02 ℃ and 1.59 ℃, respectively at the depth of 15 cm. Phospho lipid fatty acid (PLFA) method was used to determine the microbial community in soil. The low-level experimental warming did not significantly affect the soil’s total PLFA, fungi, bacteria, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), actinomycetes, gram-positive bacteria (G+), gram-negative bacteria (G-), protozoa, the ratio of fungi to bacteria (F/B ratio), and ratio of G+ to G- (G+/G- ratio) at the 0-10 and 10-20 cm depth. The low-level experimental warming also did not significantly alter the composition of microbial community in soil at the 0-10 and 10-20 cm depth. The high-level experimental warming significantly increased total PLFA by 74.4%, fungi by 78.0%, bacteria by 74.0%, AMF by 66.9%, actinomycetes by 81.4%, G+ by 67.0% and G- by 74.4% at the 0-10 cm depth rather than at 10-20 cm depth. The high-level experimental warming significantly altered microbial community composition in soil at the 0-10 cm depth rather than at 10-20 cm depth. Our findings suggest that the response of microbial communities in soil to warming varied with warming magnitudes in the highland barley system of the Lhasa River.