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Keywords:

  • semiarid land;
  • vegetation coverage;
  • NDVI;
  • climatic factors;
  • seasonal Kendall test;
  • R/S analysis;
  • stepwise regression

ABSTRACT

Vegetation is sensitive to changes in the ecological environment in arid and semiarid regions, so information on the dynamics of vegetation cover changes can provide important information for ecological environmental protection and early warning of ecosystem degradation. With the SPOT/VEGETATION normalised difference vegetation index dataset of the typical semiarid land in Inner Mongolia (IM) during 1998–2008, this study applied an integrated statistical method combing asymmetric Gaussian filtering, seasonal Kendall test, R/S analysis, correlation analysis and regression analysis, to investigate the impact of climatic factors on trends in vegetation cover. The main findings are as follows: (1) Over the 1998–2008 period, the vegetation coverage is relatively stable in IM, with only 24.5% of the total area exhibiting a significant variation in cover. The spatial distribution of the vegetation cover change has the following regional characteristics: in the northeast forest region, the vegetation cover is stable; in the middle steppe region, significant changes are observed and in the southwest desert region, the vegetation exhibits significant degradation. (2) Normalised difference vegetation index time series in most regions of IM reveal a vegetation change trend. In the high vegetation covered regions, the change trend will be reversed, whereas in the low vegetation covered regions, the original change trend will be preserved. (3) Analysis of correlation coefficients and stepwise linear regression reveals relationships between vegetation change and climatic factors. Temperature and precipitation have a direct influence on vegetation change, acting as the main climatic driving forces for the regional vegetation evolution. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.