Vegetation restoration projects intensify intraregional water recycling processes in the agro-pastoral ecotone of Northern China

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  • 1 Key Laboratory of West China’s Environmental System (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
  • 2 Department of Geography, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA
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Abstract

From 1998 to the present, the Chinese government has implemented numerous large-scale ecological programs to restore ecosystems and improve environmental protection in the agro-pastoral ecotone of Northern China (APENC). However, it remains unclear how vegetation restoration modulates intraregional moisture cycles and changes regional water balance. To fill this gap, we first investigated the variation in precipitation (P) from the China Meteorological Forcing Dataset and evapotranspiration (ET) estimated using the Priestly-Taylor Jet Propulsion Laboratory model under two scenarios: dynamic vegetation (DV) and no dynamic vegetation (no-DV). We then used the dynamic recycling model to analyze the changes in precipitation recycling ratio (PRR). Finally, we examined how vegetation restoration modulates intraregional moisture recycling to change the regional water cycle in APENC. Results indicate P increased at an average rate of 4.42 mm yr-2 from 1995 to 2015. ET with DV exhibited a significant increase at a rate of 1.57, 3.58, 1.53, and 1.84 mm yr-2 in the four subregions, respectively, compared with no-DV, and the annual mean PRR values were 10.15%, 9.30%, 11.01%, and 12.76% in the four subregions, and significant increasing trends were found in the APENC during 1995-2015. Further analysis of regional moisture recycling shows that vegetation restoration does not increase local P directly, but has an indirect effect by enhancing moisture recycling process to produce more P by increasing PRR. Our findings show that large-scale ecological restoration programs have a positive effect on local moisture cycle and precipitation.

Corresponding authors at: Key Laboratory of West China’s Environmental System (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, PR China. E-mail addresses: baoqzhang@lzu.edu.cn (Baoqing Zhang), he@wmich.edu (Chansheng He)

Abstract

From 1998 to the present, the Chinese government has implemented numerous large-scale ecological programs to restore ecosystems and improve environmental protection in the agro-pastoral ecotone of Northern China (APENC). However, it remains unclear how vegetation restoration modulates intraregional moisture cycles and changes regional water balance. To fill this gap, we first investigated the variation in precipitation (P) from the China Meteorological Forcing Dataset and evapotranspiration (ET) estimated using the Priestly-Taylor Jet Propulsion Laboratory model under two scenarios: dynamic vegetation (DV) and no dynamic vegetation (no-DV). We then used the dynamic recycling model to analyze the changes in precipitation recycling ratio (PRR). Finally, we examined how vegetation restoration modulates intraregional moisture recycling to change the regional water cycle in APENC. Results indicate P increased at an average rate of 4.42 mm yr-2 from 1995 to 2015. ET with DV exhibited a significant increase at a rate of 1.57, 3.58, 1.53, and 1.84 mm yr-2 in the four subregions, respectively, compared with no-DV, and the annual mean PRR values were 10.15%, 9.30%, 11.01%, and 12.76% in the four subregions, and significant increasing trends were found in the APENC during 1995-2015. Further analysis of regional moisture recycling shows that vegetation restoration does not increase local P directly, but has an indirect effect by enhancing moisture recycling process to produce more P by increasing PRR. Our findings show that large-scale ecological restoration programs have a positive effect on local moisture cycle and precipitation.

Corresponding authors at: Key Laboratory of West China’s Environmental System (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, PR China. E-mail addresses: baoqzhang@lzu.edu.cn (Baoqing Zhang), he@wmich.edu (Chansheng He)
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