Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Estimation of net primary productivity and its driving factors in the Ili River Valley, China


Net primary productivity (NPP), as an important variable and ecological indicator in grassland ecosystems, can reflect environmental change and the carbon budget level. The Ili River Valley is a wetland nestled in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent, which responds sensitively to the global climate change. Understanding carbon budget and their responses to climate change in the ecosystem of Ili River Valley has a significant effect on the adaptability of future climate change and sustainable development. In this study, we calculated the NPP and analyzed its spatio-temporal pattern of the Ili River Valley during the period 2000–2014 using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and an improved Carnegie-Ames-Stanford (CASA) model. Results indicate that validation showed a good performance of CASA over the study region, with an overall coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.65 and root mean square error (RMSE) of 20.86 g C/(m2•a). Temporally, annual NPP of the Ili River Valley was 599.19 g C/(m2•a) and showed a decreasing trend from 2000 to 2014, with an annual decrease rate of –3.51 g C/(m2•a). However, the spatial variation was not consistent, in which 55.69% of the areas showed a decreasing tendency, 12.60% of the areas remained relatively stable and 31.71% appeared an increasing tendency. In addition, the decreasing trends in NPP were not continuous throughout the 15-year period, which was likely being caused by a shift in climate conditions. Precipitation was found to be the dominant climatic factor that controlled the inter-annual variability in NPP. Furthermore, the correlations between NPP and climate factors differed along the vertical zonal. In the medium-high altitudes of the Ili River Valley, the NPP was positively correlated to precipitation and negatively correlated to temperature and net radiation. In the low-altitude valley and high-altitude mountain areas, the NPP showed a negative correlation with precipitation and a weakly positive correlation with temperature and net radiation. The results suggested that the vegetation of the Ili River Valley degraded in recent years, and there was a more complex mechanism of local hydrothermal redistribution that controlled the growth of vegetation in this valley ecosystem.

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