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Analysing the forcing mechanisms for net primary productivity changes in the Heihe River Basin, north-west China

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Most of the inland river basins in north-west China have experienced ecosystem degradation and even desertification in the last few decades. As a case study, we estimated the net primary productivity (NPP) of the Heihe river basin and analysed its difference between 2002 and 1998 by using the C-Fix, a Monteith type parametric NPP model. The data used include the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) derived from the 1-km SPOT/VEGETATION sensor and other environmental records. By obtaining the spatiotemporal patterns of NPP change as well as land use changes from higher resolution imagery in the basin, we identified its forcing factors in terms of climate change and human activities. We suggest that a decline in rainfall over the five years was one reason for NPP decrease in the basin. Other factors, such as irrational reclamation upstream and intensive development of irrigated farmland in the midstream play more important roles. They reinforce water competition between artificial and natural ecosystems over the whole basin. It is also found that human activities can produce very different NPP changes in a short time in mountainous regions. The NPP decreased in the east Qilian Mountains due to farmland reclamation and overgrazing but increased in the west, according to the ecosystem preserve project.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01431160802438530

Affiliations: 1: Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, PR China 2: Centre for Remote Sensing and Atmospheric Processes, Vito, Mol, Belgium

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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