Climate change has a large impact on vegetation dynamics. A series of statistical analyses were employed to demonstrate the relationship between Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Global Inventory Modelling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
(NDVI) data with an 8 × 8 km resolution and meteorological data, during the period 1982–2005. Rainfall has a great impact on vegetation with varying time lags. The sensitivity of NDVI to the threshold of accumulated temperature varies regionally. To identify a ‘best
factor’ for each meteorological station simple and partial correlation analyses were carried out. Multiple correlation analysis was used to validate the association between the two climatic factors and monthly maximum NDVI (MNDVI). This study led to the conclusion that good correlations
between MNDVI and two climatic factors are prevalent in China. It also indicated that the ‘best factors’ for some regions identified by partial correlation analysis are better than those selected by simple correlation analysis. The partial correlation coefficients of MNDVI and
each climate factor were calculated to describe the singular influence of each meteorological variable. The results indicated that the impact of other variables on vegetation should be considered in the ‘best factor’ selection for one climatic variable. Temperature has a significant
positive influence on vegetation growth in China. Precipitation is the most important climatic factor that closely correlates with MNDVI, particularly in arid and semi-arid environments. However, in some wet regions, precipitation is not a limiting factor on vegetation growth. A trend analysis
was carried out to study climate change and its impacts on vegetation. The annual accumulated temperature had an increasing trend in China during 1982–2005. Temperature increases had different influences on vegetation dynamics in different parts of China. The results coincided with those
of the multiple and partial correlation analysis.