Quantifying the variability and changes in phenology and gross primary production (GPP) of alpine wetlands in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau under climate change is essential for assessing carbon (C) balance dynamics at regional and global scales. In this study, in situ eddy covariance (EC) flux tower observations and remote sensing data were integrated with a modified, satellite-based vegetation photosynthesis model (VPM) to investigate the variability in climate change, phenology, and GPP of an alpine wetland ecosystem, located in Zoige, southwestern China. Two-year EC data and remote sensing vegetation indices showed that warmer temperatures corresponded to an earlier start date of the growing season, increased GPP, and ecosystem respiration, and hence increased the C sink strength of the alpine wetlands. Twelve-year long-term simulations (2000–2011) showed that: (1) there were significantly increasing trends for the mean annual enhanced vegetation index (EVI), land surface water index (LSWI), and growing season GPP (R2 ≥ 0.59, p 〈 0.01) at rates of 0.002, 0.11 year−1 and 16.32 g·C·m−2·year−1, respectively, which was in line with the observed warming trend (R2 = 0.54, p = 0.006); (2) the start and end of the vegetation growing season (SOS and EOS) experienced a continuous advancing trend at a rate of 1.61 days·year−1 and a delaying trend at a rate of 1.57 days·year−1 from 2000 to 2011 (p ≤ 0.04), respectively; and (3) with increasing temperature, the advanced SOS and delayed EOS prolonged the wetland’s phenological and photosynthetically active period and, thereby, increased wetland productivity by about 3.7–4.2 g·C·m−2·year−1 per day. Furthermore, our results indicated that warming and the extension of the growing season had positive effects on carbon uptake in this alpine wetland ecosystem.
Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying