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An Analysis of Vegetation Change Trends and Their Causes in Inner Mongolia, China from 1982 to 2006

An Analysis of Vegetation Change Trends and Their Causes in Inner Mongolia, China from 1982 to 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation Advances in Meteorology Volume 2011, Article ID 367854, 8 pages doi:10.1155/2011/367854 Research Article An Analysis of Vegetation Change Trends and Their Causes in Inner Mongolia, China from 1982 to 2006 1 1, 2 1, 2 Baolin Li, Wanli Yu, and Juan Wang State Key Lab of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11 Datun Road, Anwai, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China College of Resources and Environment, Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing 100049, China Correspondence should be addressed to Baolin Li, libl@lreis.ac.cn Received 10 January 2011; Revised 2 April 2011; Accepted 9 June 2011 Academic Editor: Yasunobu Iwasaka Copyright © 2011 Baolin Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. This paper presents the vegetation change trends and their causes in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, China from 1982 to 2006. We used National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data to determine the vegetation change trends based on regression model by fitting simple linear regression through the time series of the integrated Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in the growing season for each pixel and calculating the slopes. We also explored the relationship between vegetation change trends and climatic and anthropogenic factors. This paper indicated that a large portion of the study area (17%) had experienced a significant vegetation increase at the 0.05 level from 1982 to 2006. The significant vegetation increase showed no positive link with precipitation and was mainly caused by human activities. In or to the south of Horqin Sandy Land, in the Hetao Plain, and at the northern foothills of the YinshanMountain, the significant NDVI increase trends were mainly caused by the increase of the millet yield per unit of cropland. In the east of Ordos Plateau, the significant NDVI increase trends were mainly determined by the fencing and planting of grasses and trees on grassland. 1. Introduction of NOAA/AVHRR data from 1982 to 1999. These results suggested a reversal of the desertification processes in these Desertification is one of the most serious regional environ- regions. This research attributed the major cause of the mental issues [1]. China is one of the major countries facing vegetation increase to precipitation change. According to this problem in the world. The total area of desertification- the research above, human activity was only responsible prone land was approximately 2.62 million km , occupying for a minor part of the change in vegetation increase. 27.3% of the total area of China [2]. The Inner Mongolian However, recent reports on a regional scale in China’s Mu Autonomous Region, located in the north of China, is a Us region indicated that the high increase of vegetation typical agriculture-grazing transitional zone that has been based on NOAA/AVHRR and Landsat Thematic Mapper seriously affected by desertification and has suffered from (TM)/Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) data had been severe wind erosion and a high frequency of dust storms [3]. mainly found to occur in irrigated farmland or in grassland Thus, it is very important to determine the vegetation change dominated by human management [6, 7]. Liu et al. [8]and trends for combating the desertification in this area. Liu and Wang [9] reported that the vegetation degraded With the accumulation of remotely sensed images over seriously in Otindag Sandy Land based on TM/ETM images the past three decades, research on desertification based before the 21st century, and their major causes were on monitoring vegetation change has been conducted from attributed to human activities. national to regional scales [4–9]. Fang et al. [4] and Piao et These inconsistent results were first related to the dif- al. [5] reported that the vegetation in arid and semiarid areas ference in research scale. The research on a national scale of China increased significantly according to the analyses was synoptical and did not express the specific vegetation 2 Advances in Meteorology Hailar Ulanhot Tongliao Xilinhot Chifeng Jining Baotou Linhe Hohhot Wuhai Ordos Alxa (kilometers) 0 125 250 500 Cropland Water body Woodland Built up area Unused land Grassland Figure 1: Study area and its land use in 2000 based on TM/ETM+ images. changes and their causes on a regional scale. At the same focused on two points: (1) analyzed the vegetation changes time, due to the large size of the study area, most research covering all the region on a regional scale; (2) determined on a national scale has not provided sufficient validation the vegetation change trends in the form of desertification based on fieldwork and/or high spatial resolution remotely (not vegetation fluctuation) and their causes based on sensed data. If the vegetation changes and their causes will be multitemporal NOAA/AVHRR NDVI, meteorological data, understood more accurately, we must do more research work high spatial resolution remotely sensed images, and local on a regional scale. economic statistical data from 1982 to 2006. On the other hand, the inconsistent results were caused by the defects on the methodology of vegetation change 2. Study Area detection on a regional scale. Desertification distributed in arid, semiarid, and dry subhumid areas. The high variation The study area is the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, of annual precipitation is one of the fundamental environ- China, covering an area of 1,180,000 km and composed of mental features in these areas and is therefore thought to 89 banners (counties or cities). The geographical coordinates ◦  ◦  ◦  ◦ cause high variation in vegetation [10]. The permanence of are 97 12 ∼ 126 04 E, 37 24 ∼ 53 23 N. Grassland is the land degradation in the form of desertification is best deter- main land use type, occupying more than 60% of the total mined by monitoring vegetation change in desertification- area (Figure 1). The landscape is characterized by Mongolian prone areas over a time scale of decades [11]. Because the Plateau, with a generally dry and harsh environment. The determination of vegetation changes on a regional scale was temperate, arid and semiarid, and continental climate is mainly based on a few snapshot images, some vegetation mainly governed by the southeast monsoon, with windy variation caused by climatic fluctuation was mistakenly and dry winters and springs, and warm and comparatively attributed to the vegetation change trends in the form of wet summers, followed by short, cool autumns. Annual desertification [7]. precipitation varies from 50 mm in the northwest to 450 mm In order to determine the vegetation change trends in in the southeast. Annual average temperature varies from ◦ ◦ the form of desertification and their causes accurately in 0 Cto8 C. Soil types are black soil, chernozem, chestnut the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, China, this study soil, and sandy soil from the east to the west. Advances in Meteorology 3 3. Methodology to classify each image independently to map the mobile sand dunes. The overall accuracy and kappa index based 3.1. Data and Preprocessing. 15-day maximum Global Inven- on confusion matrix were used as accuracy measures to tory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) NDVI data assess the accuracies of the mobile sand dune maps [22]. from 1982 to 2006 with 8 km × 8 km spatial resolution A total of 300 sample points for each of the mobile sand were used. These data were obtained from NOAA, United dune map to be tested was generated based on a random States (http://www.noaa.gov/). These data were the sole sampling scheme. These sample points for each mobile sand remotely sensed data source with high temporal resolution dune map were then overlaid on the standard false color suitable for vegetation change trend study over the study composite of Landsat TM/ETM+ (R: band 4, G: band 3, B: period. Although the 8 km × 8 km spatial resolution was band 2). The mobile sand dune at each of these sample points coarse, the general trend of vegetation change can be deter- was determined based on the visual interpretation of these mined based on these data. For example, vegetation change composites. trends based on NOAA AVHRR NDVI had been reported Total cropland area and total millet yield for 89 banners to be determined successfully in the African Sahel region (counties or cities) were obtained from local economic [12–19]. statistical datasets from 1982 to 2006. The millet yield per The GIMMS NDVI data have been corrected for sensor unit for each banner (county or city) was computed by degradation and intercalibration differences, global cloud dividing the total millet yield with the total cropland area. cover contamination, viewing angle effects due to satellite drift, volcanic aerosols, and low signal-noise ratios due to 3.2. Determination of the Trends in Vegetation Change. NDVI subpixel cloud contamination and water vapor [20]. The is sensitive to the presence, density, and condition of veg- original data were first reprojected using the Albers Conical etation and is correlated with absorbed photosynthetically Equal Area with parameters suitable for China, and then the active radiation (PAR) and vegetation primary production 8-bit NDVI Data were converted into real NDVI. Finally, [15]. It is particularly well suited to the study of vegetation the monthly maximum NDVI and the integrated monthly changes in arid and semiarid regions [13]. Thus, we selected maximum NDVI in the growing season (May to September) NDVI as an index to study vegetation change trends in this were computed. research. Monthly precipitation data of 134 meteorological sta- tions in and within the 200 km buffer area of the study There are some commonly used NDVI indices to present area from 1982 to 2006 were acquired from the China vegetation change, including ten-day maximum NDVI, Meteorological Data Sharing Services System (http://data monthly maximum NDVI, annual maximum NDVI, inte- .cma.gov.cn/). Total precipitation in the growing season was grated ten-day maximum NDVI in the growing season, and computed for studying the relationship between vegetation integrated monthly maximum NDVI in the growing season change and precipitation. Finally, the gridded precipitation [12–19]. In this study, the integrated monthly maximum data with the same spatial resolution (8 km × 8 km) as the NDVI in the growing season (May to September) was used. NDVI data were obtained through spline interpolation. The selection of this index was based on two points: (1) We obtained land use data in 2000 for the study area from integrated monthly maximum NDVI in the growing season the China National Land Use Database established by the can better reflect the holistic conditions of vegetation than Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The land use data were the ten-day maximum NDVI, monthly maximum NDVI, or produced by visual interpretation using Landsat Thematic annual maximum NDVI because of the high interseasonal Mapper/Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (TM/ETM+) variation of vegetation in arid and semiarid zones; (2) data. A two-level hierarchical classification system of 25 1st integrated monthly maximum NDVI in the growing season land use classes and 6 2nd land use classes was taken. We was affected by cloud contamination less than the integrated used the land use map based on 2nd level classification ten-day maximum NDVI in the growing season. classes including cropland, woodland, grassland, water body, The overall trend in vegetation change over the period unused land, and built-up area. Because the overall accuracy from 1982 to 2006 was determined based on the time of the land use classification in this database was quite high, series of the integrated monthly maximum NDVI in the with 92.9% for land use maps based on the 1st land use growing season by fitting simple linear regression using classification system [21], we believed that this dataset was least squares estimation (dependent variable: integrated accurate enough for examining the relationship between NDVI; independent variable: time) [23]. The overall trends vegetation change and land use. were then converted into change rate in integrated NDVI We also obtained the Standard Terrain Correction throughout the study period and expressed as a percentage (Level 1T) TM/ETM+ images covering part of the Ordos relative to the value of the linear trend line at the starting Plateau (path/row: 128/033) in 1988 and 2010 from the point of the time series. F-statistics was used to determine United States Geological Survey (USGS) (http://landsat the significance of linear regression models. Finally, the maps .usgs.gov/products productinformation.php). The Level 1T of integrated NDVI change trend and F-statistics value were images were geometrically corrected and registered by incor- overlapped to determine the significant vegetation changes. porating ground control points while employing a digital If the regression model was significant at the 0.05 level, the elevation model (DEM) for topographic accuracy. Iterative integrated NDVI was considered to indicate the increase or Self-organizing data (ISODATA) technique was employed decrease trend. 4 Advances in Meteorology Table 1: The percentage of different vegetation change trends to the Table 2: The percentage of different correlations between inte- total study area (%). grated NDVI in the growing season and accumulated precipitation over the same period for each land use type to the total study area Increase significantly Decrease significantly No trend (%). >15 0–15 Total >15 0–15 Total Positive Negative None Percentage 12.66 4.02 16.68 1.45 1.97 3.42 79.90 significant significant significant Cropland 26.09 0.13 73.78 Woodland 1.02 4.44 94.54 3.3. Determination of the Driving Factors of Vegetation Grassland 58.02 0.04 41.94 Change Trends. The Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region was mainly located in the arid and semiarid zones. The Unused land 20.29 0.56 79.16 precipitation was the major natural factor which limited the Whole area 33.31 0.90 65.79 vegetation grown-up in arid and semiarid zones, especially in the growing seasons. Although the climatic factors such as temperature, evaporation, and solar radiation do have approximately 13% of the study area, the integrated NDVI impact on vegetation grown-upness, they do not play indicated a strong significant increase (more than 15%). limiting roles in arid and semiarid zones over the growing These results indicated that quite a large portion of the seasons. Other natural factors such as soil and landform do study area had experienced a significant vegetation increase, not change much on a decade scale and thus will not affect and only a small part had significantly showed vegetation vegetation change much, too. In order to simplify the analysis decrease over the study period. of the causes of vegetating change trends, we only considered The spatial pattern of vegetation change trends clearly precipitation (the major limiting factor in arid and semiarid varied in the study area. The area where integrated NDVI zones) as the sole natural factor which affected the vegetation significantly increased mainly distributed in four regions change in the growing seasons. (Figure 2). One was in or to the south of Horqin Sandy Land Pearson’s correlation coefficients for each pixel were (region I), including Horqin Zuoyi Zhong Banner, Kailu computed to test the strength of the linear association County, Tongliao City, Horqin Zuoyi Hou Banner, Naiman between precipitation and NDVI. The integrated monthly Banner, Ongmud Banner, Hure Banner, Aohan Banner, maximum NDVI in the growing season and the accumulated Chifeng City, Harqin Banner, Ningcheng County (ID: 24, 29, precipitation over the same period were used to find their 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 42, 47, 50). The second was in the relationship. If Pearson’s correlation coefficients between Hetao Plain (region II), including Wuyuan County, Linhe these two variables for most pixels in a region were correlated County, Hangjin Hou Banner, Tumd Zuoqi Banner, Tumd significantly at the 0.05 level, precipitation was considered as You Banner, Dengkou County (ID: 69, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76). The the major cause of vegetation change trends in this region. If third was at the northern foothills of the Yinshan Mountain Pearson’s correlation coefficients between these two variables (region III), including Shangdu County, Qahar Youyi Hou for most pixels in a region were correlated insignificantly Banner, Qahar Youyi Zhong Banner, Xinghe County, Qahar at the 0.05 level, we considered that the vegetation change Youyi Qian Banner, Fengzhen County, Liangcheng County trends in this region were mainly caused by nonclimatic (ID: 53, 55, 56, 61, 64, 73, 74). The fourth was in the east factors. of Ordos Plateau (region IV), including Horinger Banner, In the regions where vegetation change trends were Dalad Banner, Jungar Banner, Qingshuihe County, Ordos mainly caused by nonclimatic factors, the relationship City, Ejin Horo Banner, Uxin Banner (ID: 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, between vegetation change and land use was determined. 87, 88). The land use map based on Landsat TM/ETM+ in 2000 was overlapped with the vegetation change trend map based on GIMMS integrated NDVI data. If there was a significant 4.2. Driving Factors of Vegetation Change Trends increase of integrated NDVI occurring in the area where cropland was distributed, it was likely that the vegetation 4.2.1. Relationship between Integrated NDVI and Precipita- increase was caused by human activities. If there was a tion. Figure 3 showed the spatial pattern of the correlation significant increase of integrated NDVI occurring in the coefficients between integrated NDVI in the growing season area where the mobile sand dunes were converted to other and accumulated precipitation over the same period. The land use types such as grassland, forest, or cropland, the pattern varied clearly across the entire study area from 1982 vegetation increase was also attributed to human activities. to 2006. Where integrated NDVI showed significant increase trend, the correlation coefficients were insignificant at 0.05 level (ID: 24, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 42, 47, 50, 53, 55, 56, 4. Results and Discussion 61, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, 87, 88) 4.1. Vegetation Change Trends. During the period from (Table 2). 1982 to 2006, 17% of the study area showed a significant The correlation coefficients were insignificant in the area vegetation increase, while 3% showed a significant decrease where NDVI showed significant increase trends; therefore at the 0.05 level according to the F-statistic values (Table 1). precipitation was not the major cause of the significant Other regions had no significant vegetation change trend. In increase trends in integrated monthly maximum NDVI in Advances in Meteorology 5 Table 3: The percentage of different land uses to the total area in the regions where NDVI had strong increasing trends (%). Cropland Woodland Grassland Water body Built-up area Unused land Region I 45.94 7.45 31.05 2.34 3.07 10.16 Region II 42.37 1.56 21.07 2.10 9.66 23.24 Region III 50.69 6.88 31.79 2.74 4.74 3.17 Region IV 12.52 4.24 57.51 3.09 1.71 20.92 10 4 22 24 29 30 23 31 27 28 34 36 37 33 35 I 51 50 48 49 46 52 III 62 63 64 65 61 69 68 70 66 71 72 II 75 74 76 80 79 77 81 IV 86 87 (kilometers) 0 125 250 500 No trend Increase < 15% Decrease > 15% Increase > 15% Decrease < 15% Figure 2: Overall trends in vegetation changes throughout the period 1982–2006. Percentages expressed changes in integrated monthly maximum GIMMS NDVI during the growing season over the study period. The significance of regression models was at the 0.05 level. 16.7% of the study area showed a significant increase trend. The area where integrated NDVI significantly increased mainly distributed in four regions: I (Banner or county ids: 24, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 42, 47, 50), II (Banner or county ids: 69, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76), III (Banner or county ids: 53, 55, 56, 61, 64, 73, 74), IV (Banner or county ids: 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, 87, 88). the growing season. These results suggested that there was no 4.2.2. Relationship between Integrated NDVI and Human positive link between the significant vegetation increases and Activities. The vegetation increase trends in region I, II, III precipitation change as frequently reported in the African were mainly related to the change of cropland. Most land in Sahel region and China on continental or national scales these regions was used as cropland, which occupied 45.9%, [4, 5, 12–19]. 42.4%, and 50.7% of the total area, respectively (Table 3). It should be pointed that there were positive correlations The increase in the integrated NDVI over the growing season between NDVI and precipitation in quite a lot of areas (ID: was caused by the increase in the biomass of cropland with 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 21, 23, 26, 27, 37, 38, 41, 48, 43, 45, 53, the improvement of human management such as irrigation 55, 56, 65, 63, 62, 58, 48). In these areas, the integrated NDVI and fertilizer. Table 4 showed that the millet yield per unit showed no significant change trends and mainly distributed showed significant increase trend at the 0.05 level in almost on grassland (Figures 1 and 3). The human activities only all of these regions. The increase in millet yield per unit have minor impact on the vegetation change in these areas, indicated the increase in crop biomass. Thus, we believed and thus it was not surprising that the precipitation plays key that the biomass of cropland increased significantly over the role in vegetation changes. study period. Therefore, it was not surprising to observe that 6 Advances in Meteorology 10 4 22 24 29 30 23 31 27 28 34 36 37 33 51 50 48 49 46 52 62 63 64 65 61 69 68 70 66 71 72 75 74 76 80 79 77 81 86 87 (kilometers) 0 125 250 500 No correlated Negative correlated Positive correlated Figure 3: The correlation coefficients between the integrated NDVI in the growing season and the accumulated precipitation over the same period. The significance of correlation model was at the 0.05 level. Where NDVI showed significant increase trend, the correlation coefficients were not significant (Banner or county ids: 24, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 42,47,50, 53, 55, 56, 61, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, 87, 88), while where NDVI showed no significant change trends, the correlation coefficients were significant (Banner or county ids: 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 21, 23, 26, 27, 37, 38, 41, 48, 43, 45, 53, 55, 56, 65, 63, 62, 58, 48). Table 4: The slope and F-statistics value of linear regression model Table 5: The overall accuracy of the moving sand dune maps. of millet yield per unit (t/ha × 10 ). Index 15/09/1988 10/07/2010 County (city or banner) Slope F-value Overall accuracy (%) 98 90 Horqin Zuoyi Zhong 0.09 17.1 Kappa coefficient 0.89 0.74 Kailu 0.19 55.2 Horqin Zuoyi Hou 0.08 25.2 Naiman 0.11 56.1 The NDVI changes in region IV where NDVI increased Hure 0.07 42.5 significantly were mainly caused by the fencing and planting Aohan 0.07 15.7 of grasses and trees in these areas. Figure 4 showed that the Ongniud 0.11 76.8 mobile sand dunes had decreased rapidly in part of this region during the period from 1988 to 2010. The area of Ningcheng 0.18 78.5 ∗ the mobile dune decreased over 50% from 6790 km in 1988 Harqin 0.06 19.9 to 2753 km in 2000 (the overall accuracies of classification Wuyuan 0.05 19.8 ranged from 90% to 98%, kappa coefficients ranged from Hanggin Hou 0.06 12.3 0.74 to 0.89 as shown in Table 5). The decrease of the mobile Dengkou −0.05 6.0 sand dunes indicated the increase of biomass in this region Ejin Horo 0.08 33.5 over the study period. Thus, the integrated NDVI showed the Liangcheng 0.11 45.1 significant increase trend. Regression model can reach the significance at the 0.05 level. 5. Conclusion in most of these regions where the integrated NDVI in the growing season increased significantly, the major land use This paper indicated the long-term change of vegetation type was cropland. increase from 1982 to 2006 in a large portion of the Inner Advances in Meteorology 7 significant NDVI increase trends were mainly caused by the increase of the millet yield per unit of cropland in or to the south of Horqin Sandy Land, in the Hetao Plain, and at Otog the northern foothills of the Yinshan Mountain (Region I, II, III). In the east of Ordos Plateau (region IV), significant NDVI increase trends were mainly caused by the fencing and planting of grasses and trees on the grassland. References Uxin Banner [1] D. S. G. 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An Analysis of Vegetation Change Trends and Their Causes in Inner Mongolia, China from 1982 to 2006

Advances in Meteorology , Volume 2011 – Jul 14, 2011

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Hindawi Publishing Corporation Advances in Meteorology Volume 2011, Article ID 367854, 8 pages doi:10.1155/2011/367854 Research Article An Analysis of Vegetation Change Trends and Their Causes in Inner Mongolia, China from 1982 to 2006 1 1, 2 1, 2 Baolin Li, Wanli Yu, and Juan Wang State Key Lab of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11 Datun Road, Anwai, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China College of Resources and Environment, Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing 100049, China Correspondence should be addressed to Baolin Li, libl@lreis.ac.cn Received 10 January 2011; Revised 2 April 2011; Accepted 9 June 2011 Academic Editor: Yasunobu Iwasaka Copyright © 2011 Baolin Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. This paper presents the vegetation change trends and their causes in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, China from 1982 to 2006. We used National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data to determine the vegetation change trends based on regression model by fitting simple linear regression through the time series of the integrated Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in the growing season for each pixel and calculating the slopes. We also explored the relationship between vegetation change trends and climatic and anthropogenic factors. This paper indicated that a large portion of the study area (17%) had experienced a significant vegetation increase at the 0.05 level from 1982 to 2006. The significant vegetation increase showed no positive link with precipitation and was mainly caused by human activities. In or to the south of Horqin Sandy Land, in the Hetao Plain, and at the northern foothills of the YinshanMountain, the significant NDVI increase trends were mainly caused by the increase of the millet yield per unit of cropland. In the east of Ordos Plateau, the significant NDVI increase trends were mainly determined by the fencing and planting of grasses and trees on grassland. 1. Introduction of NOAA/AVHRR data from 1982 to 1999. These results suggested a reversal of the desertification processes in these Desertification is one of the most serious regional environ- regions. This research attributed the major cause of the mental issues [1]. China is one of the major countries facing vegetation increase to precipitation change. According to this problem in the world. The total area of desertification- the research above, human activity was only responsible prone land was approximately 2.62 million km , occupying for a minor part of the change in vegetation increase. 27.3% of the total area of China [2]. The Inner Mongolian However, recent reports on a regional scale in China’s Mu Autonomous Region, located in the north of China, is a Us region indicated that the high increase of vegetation typical agriculture-grazing transitional zone that has been based on NOAA/AVHRR and Landsat Thematic Mapper seriously affected by desertification and has suffered from (TM)/Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) data had been severe wind erosion and a high frequency of dust storms [3]. mainly found to occur in irrigated farmland or in grassland Thus, it is very important to determine the vegetation change dominated by human management [6, 7]. Liu et al. [8]and trends for combating the desertification in this area. Liu and Wang [9] reported that the vegetation degraded With the accumulation of remotely sensed images over seriously in Otindag Sandy Land based on TM/ETM images the past three decades, research on desertification based before the 21st century, and their major causes were on monitoring vegetation change has been conducted from attributed to human activities. national to regional scales [4–9]. Fang et al. [4] and Piao et These inconsistent results were first related to the dif- al. [5] reported that the vegetation in arid and semiarid areas ference in research scale. The research on a national scale of China increased significantly according to the analyses was synoptical and did not express the specific vegetation 2 Advances in Meteorology Hailar Ulanhot Tongliao Xilinhot Chifeng Jining Baotou Linhe Hohhot Wuhai Ordos Alxa (kilometers) 0 125 250 500 Cropland Water body Woodland Built up area Unused land Grassland Figure 1: Study area and its land use in 2000 based on TM/ETM+ images. changes and their causes on a regional scale. At the same focused on two points: (1) analyzed the vegetation changes time, due to the large size of the study area, most research covering all the region on a regional scale; (2) determined on a national scale has not provided sufficient validation the vegetation change trends in the form of desertification based on fieldwork and/or high spatial resolution remotely (not vegetation fluctuation) and their causes based on sensed data. If the vegetation changes and their causes will be multitemporal NOAA/AVHRR NDVI, meteorological data, understood more accurately, we must do more research work high spatial resolution remotely sensed images, and local on a regional scale. economic statistical data from 1982 to 2006. On the other hand, the inconsistent results were caused by the defects on the methodology of vegetation change 2. Study Area detection on a regional scale. Desertification distributed in arid, semiarid, and dry subhumid areas. The high variation The study area is the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, of annual precipitation is one of the fundamental environ- China, covering an area of 1,180,000 km and composed of mental features in these areas and is therefore thought to 89 banners (counties or cities). The geographical coordinates ◦  ◦  ◦  ◦ cause high variation in vegetation [10]. The permanence of are 97 12 ∼ 126 04 E, 37 24 ∼ 53 23 N. Grassland is the land degradation in the form of desertification is best deter- main land use type, occupying more than 60% of the total mined by monitoring vegetation change in desertification- area (Figure 1). The landscape is characterized by Mongolian prone areas over a time scale of decades [11]. Because the Plateau, with a generally dry and harsh environment. The determination of vegetation changes on a regional scale was temperate, arid and semiarid, and continental climate is mainly based on a few snapshot images, some vegetation mainly governed by the southeast monsoon, with windy variation caused by climatic fluctuation was mistakenly and dry winters and springs, and warm and comparatively attributed to the vegetation change trends in the form of wet summers, followed by short, cool autumns. Annual desertification [7]. precipitation varies from 50 mm in the northwest to 450 mm In order to determine the vegetation change trends in in the southeast. Annual average temperature varies from ◦ ◦ the form of desertification and their causes accurately in 0 Cto8 C. Soil types are black soil, chernozem, chestnut the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, China, this study soil, and sandy soil from the east to the west. Advances in Meteorology 3 3. Methodology to classify each image independently to map the mobile sand dunes. The overall accuracy and kappa index based 3.1. Data and Preprocessing. 15-day maximum Global Inven- on confusion matrix were used as accuracy measures to tory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) NDVI data assess the accuracies of the mobile sand dune maps [22]. from 1982 to 2006 with 8 km × 8 km spatial resolution A total of 300 sample points for each of the mobile sand were used. These data were obtained from NOAA, United dune map to be tested was generated based on a random States (http://www.noaa.gov/). These data were the sole sampling scheme. These sample points for each mobile sand remotely sensed data source with high temporal resolution dune map were then overlaid on the standard false color suitable for vegetation change trend study over the study composite of Landsat TM/ETM+ (R: band 4, G: band 3, B: period. Although the 8 km × 8 km spatial resolution was band 2). The mobile sand dune at each of these sample points coarse, the general trend of vegetation change can be deter- was determined based on the visual interpretation of these mined based on these data. For example, vegetation change composites. trends based on NOAA AVHRR NDVI had been reported Total cropland area and total millet yield for 89 banners to be determined successfully in the African Sahel region (counties or cities) were obtained from local economic [12–19]. statistical datasets from 1982 to 2006. The millet yield per The GIMMS NDVI data have been corrected for sensor unit for each banner (county or city) was computed by degradation and intercalibration differences, global cloud dividing the total millet yield with the total cropland area. cover contamination, viewing angle effects due to satellite drift, volcanic aerosols, and low signal-noise ratios due to 3.2. Determination of the Trends in Vegetation Change. NDVI subpixel cloud contamination and water vapor [20]. The is sensitive to the presence, density, and condition of veg- original data were first reprojected using the Albers Conical etation and is correlated with absorbed photosynthetically Equal Area with parameters suitable for China, and then the active radiation (PAR) and vegetation primary production 8-bit NDVI Data were converted into real NDVI. Finally, [15]. It is particularly well suited to the study of vegetation the monthly maximum NDVI and the integrated monthly changes in arid and semiarid regions [13]. Thus, we selected maximum NDVI in the growing season (May to September) NDVI as an index to study vegetation change trends in this were computed. research. Monthly precipitation data of 134 meteorological sta- tions in and within the 200 km buffer area of the study There are some commonly used NDVI indices to present area from 1982 to 2006 were acquired from the China vegetation change, including ten-day maximum NDVI, Meteorological Data Sharing Services System (http://data monthly maximum NDVI, annual maximum NDVI, inte- .cma.gov.cn/). Total precipitation in the growing season was grated ten-day maximum NDVI in the growing season, and computed for studying the relationship between vegetation integrated monthly maximum NDVI in the growing season change and precipitation. Finally, the gridded precipitation [12–19]. In this study, the integrated monthly maximum data with the same spatial resolution (8 km × 8 km) as the NDVI in the growing season (May to September) was used. NDVI data were obtained through spline interpolation. The selection of this index was based on two points: (1) We obtained land use data in 2000 for the study area from integrated monthly maximum NDVI in the growing season the China National Land Use Database established by the can better reflect the holistic conditions of vegetation than Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The land use data were the ten-day maximum NDVI, monthly maximum NDVI, or produced by visual interpretation using Landsat Thematic annual maximum NDVI because of the high interseasonal Mapper/Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (TM/ETM+) variation of vegetation in arid and semiarid zones; (2) data. A two-level hierarchical classification system of 25 1st integrated monthly maximum NDVI in the growing season land use classes and 6 2nd land use classes was taken. We was affected by cloud contamination less than the integrated used the land use map based on 2nd level classification ten-day maximum NDVI in the growing season. classes including cropland, woodland, grassland, water body, The overall trend in vegetation change over the period unused land, and built-up area. Because the overall accuracy from 1982 to 2006 was determined based on the time of the land use classification in this database was quite high, series of the integrated monthly maximum NDVI in the with 92.9% for land use maps based on the 1st land use growing season by fitting simple linear regression using classification system [21], we believed that this dataset was least squares estimation (dependent variable: integrated accurate enough for examining the relationship between NDVI; independent variable: time) [23]. The overall trends vegetation change and land use. were then converted into change rate in integrated NDVI We also obtained the Standard Terrain Correction throughout the study period and expressed as a percentage (Level 1T) TM/ETM+ images covering part of the Ordos relative to the value of the linear trend line at the starting Plateau (path/row: 128/033) in 1988 and 2010 from the point of the time series. F-statistics was used to determine United States Geological Survey (USGS) (http://landsat the significance of linear regression models. Finally, the maps .usgs.gov/products productinformation.php). The Level 1T of integrated NDVI change trend and F-statistics value were images were geometrically corrected and registered by incor- overlapped to determine the significant vegetation changes. porating ground control points while employing a digital If the regression model was significant at the 0.05 level, the elevation model (DEM) for topographic accuracy. Iterative integrated NDVI was considered to indicate the increase or Self-organizing data (ISODATA) technique was employed decrease trend. 4 Advances in Meteorology Table 1: The percentage of different vegetation change trends to the Table 2: The percentage of different correlations between inte- total study area (%). grated NDVI in the growing season and accumulated precipitation over the same period for each land use type to the total study area Increase significantly Decrease significantly No trend (%). >15 0–15 Total >15 0–15 Total Positive Negative None Percentage 12.66 4.02 16.68 1.45 1.97 3.42 79.90 significant significant significant Cropland 26.09 0.13 73.78 Woodland 1.02 4.44 94.54 3.3. Determination of the Driving Factors of Vegetation Grassland 58.02 0.04 41.94 Change Trends. The Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region was mainly located in the arid and semiarid zones. The Unused land 20.29 0.56 79.16 precipitation was the major natural factor which limited the Whole area 33.31 0.90 65.79 vegetation grown-up in arid and semiarid zones, especially in the growing seasons. Although the climatic factors such as temperature, evaporation, and solar radiation do have approximately 13% of the study area, the integrated NDVI impact on vegetation grown-upness, they do not play indicated a strong significant increase (more than 15%). limiting roles in arid and semiarid zones over the growing These results indicated that quite a large portion of the seasons. Other natural factors such as soil and landform do study area had experienced a significant vegetation increase, not change much on a decade scale and thus will not affect and only a small part had significantly showed vegetation vegetation change much, too. In order to simplify the analysis decrease over the study period. of the causes of vegetating change trends, we only considered The spatial pattern of vegetation change trends clearly precipitation (the major limiting factor in arid and semiarid varied in the study area. The area where integrated NDVI zones) as the sole natural factor which affected the vegetation significantly increased mainly distributed in four regions change in the growing seasons. (Figure 2). One was in or to the south of Horqin Sandy Land Pearson’s correlation coefficients for each pixel were (region I), including Horqin Zuoyi Zhong Banner, Kailu computed to test the strength of the linear association County, Tongliao City, Horqin Zuoyi Hou Banner, Naiman between precipitation and NDVI. The integrated monthly Banner, Ongmud Banner, Hure Banner, Aohan Banner, maximum NDVI in the growing season and the accumulated Chifeng City, Harqin Banner, Ningcheng County (ID: 24, 29, precipitation over the same period were used to find their 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 42, 47, 50). The second was in the relationship. If Pearson’s correlation coefficients between Hetao Plain (region II), including Wuyuan County, Linhe these two variables for most pixels in a region were correlated County, Hangjin Hou Banner, Tumd Zuoqi Banner, Tumd significantly at the 0.05 level, precipitation was considered as You Banner, Dengkou County (ID: 69, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76). The the major cause of vegetation change trends in this region. If third was at the northern foothills of the Yinshan Mountain Pearson’s correlation coefficients between these two variables (region III), including Shangdu County, Qahar Youyi Hou for most pixels in a region were correlated insignificantly Banner, Qahar Youyi Zhong Banner, Xinghe County, Qahar at the 0.05 level, we considered that the vegetation change Youyi Qian Banner, Fengzhen County, Liangcheng County trends in this region were mainly caused by nonclimatic (ID: 53, 55, 56, 61, 64, 73, 74). The fourth was in the east factors. of Ordos Plateau (region IV), including Horinger Banner, In the regions where vegetation change trends were Dalad Banner, Jungar Banner, Qingshuihe County, Ordos mainly caused by nonclimatic factors, the relationship City, Ejin Horo Banner, Uxin Banner (ID: 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, between vegetation change and land use was determined. 87, 88). The land use map based on Landsat TM/ETM+ in 2000 was overlapped with the vegetation change trend map based on GIMMS integrated NDVI data. If there was a significant 4.2. Driving Factors of Vegetation Change Trends increase of integrated NDVI occurring in the area where cropland was distributed, it was likely that the vegetation 4.2.1. Relationship between Integrated NDVI and Precipita- increase was caused by human activities. If there was a tion. Figure 3 showed the spatial pattern of the correlation significant increase of integrated NDVI occurring in the coefficients between integrated NDVI in the growing season area where the mobile sand dunes were converted to other and accumulated precipitation over the same period. The land use types such as grassland, forest, or cropland, the pattern varied clearly across the entire study area from 1982 vegetation increase was also attributed to human activities. to 2006. Where integrated NDVI showed significant increase trend, the correlation coefficients were insignificant at 0.05 level (ID: 24, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 42, 47, 50, 53, 55, 56, 4. Results and Discussion 61, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, 87, 88) 4.1. Vegetation Change Trends. During the period from (Table 2). 1982 to 2006, 17% of the study area showed a significant The correlation coefficients were insignificant in the area vegetation increase, while 3% showed a significant decrease where NDVI showed significant increase trends; therefore at the 0.05 level according to the F-statistic values (Table 1). precipitation was not the major cause of the significant Other regions had no significant vegetation change trend. In increase trends in integrated monthly maximum NDVI in Advances in Meteorology 5 Table 3: The percentage of different land uses to the total area in the regions where NDVI had strong increasing trends (%). Cropland Woodland Grassland Water body Built-up area Unused land Region I 45.94 7.45 31.05 2.34 3.07 10.16 Region II 42.37 1.56 21.07 2.10 9.66 23.24 Region III 50.69 6.88 31.79 2.74 4.74 3.17 Region IV 12.52 4.24 57.51 3.09 1.71 20.92 10 4 22 24 29 30 23 31 27 28 34 36 37 33 35 I 51 50 48 49 46 52 III 62 63 64 65 61 69 68 70 66 71 72 II 75 74 76 80 79 77 81 IV 86 87 (kilometers) 0 125 250 500 No trend Increase < 15% Decrease > 15% Increase > 15% Decrease < 15% Figure 2: Overall trends in vegetation changes throughout the period 1982–2006. Percentages expressed changes in integrated monthly maximum GIMMS NDVI during the growing season over the study period. The significance of regression models was at the 0.05 level. 16.7% of the study area showed a significant increase trend. The area where integrated NDVI significantly increased mainly distributed in four regions: I (Banner or county ids: 24, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 42, 47, 50), II (Banner or county ids: 69, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76), III (Banner or county ids: 53, 55, 56, 61, 64, 73, 74), IV (Banner or county ids: 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, 87, 88). the growing season. These results suggested that there was no 4.2.2. Relationship between Integrated NDVI and Human positive link between the significant vegetation increases and Activities. The vegetation increase trends in region I, II, III precipitation change as frequently reported in the African were mainly related to the change of cropland. Most land in Sahel region and China on continental or national scales these regions was used as cropland, which occupied 45.9%, [4, 5, 12–19]. 42.4%, and 50.7% of the total area, respectively (Table 3). It should be pointed that there were positive correlations The increase in the integrated NDVI over the growing season between NDVI and precipitation in quite a lot of areas (ID: was caused by the increase in the biomass of cropland with 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 21, 23, 26, 27, 37, 38, 41, 48, 43, 45, 53, the improvement of human management such as irrigation 55, 56, 65, 63, 62, 58, 48). In these areas, the integrated NDVI and fertilizer. Table 4 showed that the millet yield per unit showed no significant change trends and mainly distributed showed significant increase trend at the 0.05 level in almost on grassland (Figures 1 and 3). The human activities only all of these regions. The increase in millet yield per unit have minor impact on the vegetation change in these areas, indicated the increase in crop biomass. Thus, we believed and thus it was not surprising that the precipitation plays key that the biomass of cropland increased significantly over the role in vegetation changes. study period. Therefore, it was not surprising to observe that 6 Advances in Meteorology 10 4 22 24 29 30 23 31 27 28 34 36 37 33 51 50 48 49 46 52 62 63 64 65 61 69 68 70 66 71 72 75 74 76 80 79 77 81 86 87 (kilometers) 0 125 250 500 No correlated Negative correlated Positive correlated Figure 3: The correlation coefficients between the integrated NDVI in the growing season and the accumulated precipitation over the same period. The significance of correlation model was at the 0.05 level. Where NDVI showed significant increase trend, the correlation coefficients were not significant (Banner or county ids: 24, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 42,47,50, 53, 55, 56, 61, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, 87, 88), while where NDVI showed no significant change trends, the correlation coefficients were significant (Banner or county ids: 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 21, 23, 26, 27, 37, 38, 41, 48, 43, 45, 53, 55, 56, 65, 63, 62, 58, 48). Table 4: The slope and F-statistics value of linear regression model Table 5: The overall accuracy of the moving sand dune maps. of millet yield per unit (t/ha × 10 ). Index 15/09/1988 10/07/2010 County (city or banner) Slope F-value Overall accuracy (%) 98 90 Horqin Zuoyi Zhong 0.09 17.1 Kappa coefficient 0.89 0.74 Kailu 0.19 55.2 Horqin Zuoyi Hou 0.08 25.2 Naiman 0.11 56.1 The NDVI changes in region IV where NDVI increased Hure 0.07 42.5 significantly were mainly caused by the fencing and planting Aohan 0.07 15.7 of grasses and trees in these areas. Figure 4 showed that the Ongniud 0.11 76.8 mobile sand dunes had decreased rapidly in part of this region during the period from 1988 to 2010. The area of Ningcheng 0.18 78.5 ∗ the mobile dune decreased over 50% from 6790 km in 1988 Harqin 0.06 19.9 to 2753 km in 2000 (the overall accuracies of classification Wuyuan 0.05 19.8 ranged from 90% to 98%, kappa coefficients ranged from Hanggin Hou 0.06 12.3 0.74 to 0.89 as shown in Table 5). The decrease of the mobile Dengkou −0.05 6.0 sand dunes indicated the increase of biomass in this region Ejin Horo 0.08 33.5 over the study period. Thus, the integrated NDVI showed the Liangcheng 0.11 45.1 significant increase trend. Regression model can reach the significance at the 0.05 level. 5. Conclusion in most of these regions where the integrated NDVI in the growing season increased significantly, the major land use This paper indicated the long-term change of vegetation type was cropland. increase from 1982 to 2006 in a large portion of the Inner Advances in Meteorology 7 significant NDVI increase trends were mainly caused by the increase of the millet yield per unit of cropland in or to the south of Horqin Sandy Land, in the Hetao Plain, and at Otog the northern foothills of the Yinshan Mountain (Region I, II, III). In the east of Ordos Plateau (region IV), significant NDVI increase trends were mainly caused by the fencing and planting of grasses and trees on the grassland. References Uxin Banner [1] D. S. G. 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