Changing Climate and Overgrazaing Are Decimating Mongolian Steppes

Y.Y. Liu, J.P. Evans, M.F. McCabe, R.A.M. de Jeu, A.I.J.M. van Dijk, A.J. Dolman

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Satellite observations identify the Mongolian steppes as a hotspot of global biomass reduction, the extent of which is comparable with tropical rainforest deforestation. To conserve or restore these grasslands, the relative contributions of climate and human activities to degradation need to be understood. Here we use a recently developed 21-year (1988-2008) record of satellite based vegetation optical depth (VOD, a proxy for vegetation water content and aboveground biomass), to show that nearly all steppe grasslands in Mongolia experienced significant decreases in VOD. Approximately 60% of the VOD declines can be directly explained by variations in rainfall and surface temperature. After removing these climate induced influences, a significant decreasing trend still persists in the VOD residuals across regions of Mongolia. Correlations in spatial patterns and temporal trends suggest that a marked increase in goat density with associated grazing pressures and wild fires are the most likely non-climatic factors behind grassland degradation. © 2013 Liu et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57599
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number2
Early online date25 Feb 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Climate
steppes
Biomass
Mongolia
grasslands
climate change
Satellites
Deforestation
Degradation
Water content
Rain
climate
Fires
vegetation
degradation
tropical rain forests
wildfires
deforestation
aboveground biomass
surface temperature

Cite this

Liu, Y. Y., Evans, J. P., McCabe, M. F., de Jeu, R. A. M., van Dijk, A. I. J. M., & Dolman, A. J. (2013). Changing Climate and Overgrazaing Are Decimating Mongolian Steppes. PLoS ONE, 8(2), [e57599]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0057599
Liu, Y.Y. ; Evans, J.P. ; McCabe, M.F. ; de Jeu, R.A.M. ; van Dijk, A.I.J.M. ; Dolman, A.J. / Changing Climate and Overgrazaing Are Decimating Mongolian Steppes. In: PLoS ONE. 2013 ; Vol. 8, No. 2.
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Liu, YY, Evans, JP, McCabe, MF, de Jeu, RAM, van Dijk, AIJM & Dolman, AJ 2013, 'Changing Climate and Overgrazaing Are Decimating Mongolian Steppes' PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 2, e57599. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0057599

Changing Climate and Overgrazaing Are Decimating Mongolian Steppes. / Liu, Y.Y.; Evans, J.P.; McCabe, M.F.; de Jeu, R.A.M.; van Dijk, A.I.J.M.; Dolman, A.J.

In: PLoS ONE, Vol. 8, No. 2, e57599, 2013.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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