Heterogeneity and non-linearity of ecosystem responses to climate change in the Qilian Mountains National Park, China

Xiang Gao, Ruiyang Wen, Kevin Lo*, Jie Li, An Yan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Ecosystem responses to climate change, particularly in arid environments, is an understudied topic. This study conducted a spatial analysis of ecosystem responses to short-term variability in temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation in the Qilian Mountains National Park, an arid mountainous region in Northwest China. We collected precipitation and temperature data from the National Science and Technology Infrastructure Platform, solar radiation data from the China Meteorological Forcing Dataset, and vegetation cover remote-sensing data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. We used the vegetation sensitivity index to identify areas sensitive to climate change and to determine which climatic factors were significant in this regard. The findings revealed a high degree of heterogeneity and non-linearity of ecosystem responses to climate change. Four types of heterogeneity were identified: longitude, altitude, ecosystem, and climate disturbance. Furthermore, the characteristics of nonlinear ecosystem responses to climate change included: (1) inconsistency in the controlling climatic factors for the same ecosystems in different geographical settings; (2) the interaction between different climatic factors results in varying weights that affect ecosystem stability and makes them difficult to determine; and (3) the hysteresis effect of vegetation increases the uncertainty of ecosystem responses to climate change. The findings are significant because they highlight the complexity of ecosystem responses to climate change. Furthermore, the identification of areas that are particularly sensitive to climate change and the influencing factors has important implications for predicting and managing the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, which can help protect the stability of ecosystems in the Qilian Mountains National Park.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)508-522
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Arid Land
    Volume15
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2023

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Water Science and Technology
    • Earth-Surface Processes
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

    User-Defined Keywords

    • ecosystem resistance
    • ecosystem stability
    • climate change
    • vegetation sensitivity index (VSI)
    • Qilian Mountains National Park

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