The Yarlung Zangbo River basin is an important alley to transport moisture from the Indian Ocean to the inner Tibetan Plateau. With a wide range of elevations from 147 m to over 7000 m above sea level (a.s.l.), ecosystems respond differently to climate change at various elevations. However, the pattern of elevation-dependent vegetation change and how it responds to recent warming have been rarely reported. Here, we investigated the pattern of vegetation greening at different elevations in this river basin using SPOT normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data during 1999–2013, and examined its relationship with elevation-dependent changes in temperature and precipitation. The annual NDVI has increased by 8.83% from 1999 to 2013. In particular, the NDVI increased more apparently at lower elevations, but remained relatively stable or even decreased at high elevations. It seems that rising temperature has driven the basin-wide vegetation greening, but the greening rate is in contrast to the pattern of elevation-dependent warming (EDW) with more significant temperature increase at higher elevations. It appears that decreasing precipitation does not reverse the overall increasing trend in NDVI, but relatively limited precipitation (〈500 mm) may constrain the NDVI increases, causing apparently stable or even decreased NDVI at higher elevations (>4000 m).
Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying