Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Topographical and hydrological effects on meso-scale vegetation in desert steppe, Mongolia


This study investigated the seasonal variations of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and its relationships with climatic variables and topography in a small-scale (20 km×20 km) area (i.e., Tsogt-Ovoo village) within the desert steppe zone of Mongolia using in-situ observed climate data and satellite remote sensing data. We found that the topography is very important for vegetation growth in the desert steppe although the summer precipitation is the constraining factor. The unexpectedly high NDVI (up to 0.56), as well as the high aboveground biomass, in the valley bottom was primarily resulted from the topography-modulated redistribution of overland flow after relatively heavy precipitation events during the growing season. This makes the valley bottoms in desert steppes not only reliable feeding resources for livestock but also heavens for wild lives. But, the detected large standard deviation of annual maximum NDVI (NDVImax) from 2000 to 2013 in the valley bottom in response to rather variable precipitation implies that the valley bottoms under desert steppe climates are more vulnerable to climatic change.

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