• trends in NDVI;
  • NDVI-climate relationship;
  • human activity;
  • China

[1] In this paper, we analyzed interannual variations of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and their relationships with climatic variables (temperature and precipitation) and human activity in China between 1982 and 1999. Monthly and seasonal NDVI increased significantly at both the country and biome scales over the study period. NDVI shows the largest increase (14.4% during the 18 years and a trend of 0.0018 yr−1) over 85.9% of the total study area in spring and the smallest increase (5.2% with a trend of 0.0012 yr−1) over 72.2% of the area in summer. The NDVI trends show a marked heterogeneity corresponding to regional and seasonal variations in climates. There is about a 3-month lag for the period between the maximum trend in temperature (February) and that in NDVI (April or May) at the country and biome scales. Human activity (urbanization and agricultural practices) also played an important role in influencing the NDVI trends over some regions. Rapid urbanization resulted in a sharp decrease in NDVI in the Yangtze River and Pearl River deltas, while irrigation and fertilization may have contributed to the increased NDVI in the North China plain.