The response of lake area and vegetation cover variations to climate change over the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau during the past 30 years

Zengxin Zhang, Juan Chang, Chong Yu Xu, Yang Zhou, Yanhong Wu, Xi Chen, Shanshan Jiang, Zheng Duan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Lakes and vegetation are important factors of the Earth's hydrological cycle and can be called an “indicator” of climate change. In this study, long-term changes of lakes' area and vegetation coverage in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and their relations to the climate change were analyzed by using Mann-Kendall method during the past 30 years. Results showed that: 1) the lakes' area of the QTP increased significantly during the past 30 years as a whole, and the increasing rates have been dramatically sped up since the year of 2000. Among them, the area of Ayakekumu Lake has the fastest growing rate of 51.35%, which increased from 618 km 2 in the 1980s to 983 km 2 in the 2010s; 2) overall, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) increased in the QTP during the past 30 years. Above 79% of the area in the QTP showed increasing trend of NDVI before the year of 2000; 3) the air temperature increased significantly, the precipitation increased slightly, and the pan evaporation decreased significantly during the past 30 years. The lake area and vegetation coverage changes might be related to the climate change. The shifts in the temporal climate trend occurred around the year 2000 had led the lake area and vegetation coverage increasing. This study is of importance in further understanding the environmental changes under global warming over the QTP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-451
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume635
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep 1
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Climate Research
  • Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Lake area
  • Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
  • Vegetation restoration

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