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Decoupling of rainfall and vegetation greening in the arid Asian endorheic basins due to the irrigation intensification
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  • Zhengyang Zhang,
  • Xuanlong Ma,
  • Eduardo Eiji Meada,
  • Lei Lu,
  • Yuanyuan Wang,
  • Zunyi Xie,
  • Xiaoying Li,
  • Lei Huang,
  • Yuhe Zhao,
  • Alfredo R Huete
Zhengyang Zhang
Lanzhou University
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Xuanlong Ma
Lanzhou University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Eduardo Eiji Meada
Department of Geosciences and Geography, P.O. Box 68, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.
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Lei Lu
College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University
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Yuanyuan Wang
Key Laboratory of Radiometric Calibration and Validation for Environmental Satellites´╝îNational Satellite Meteorological Center (National Center for Space Weather)´╝îChina Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100082, China.
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Zunyi Xie
Henan University
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Xiaoying Li
College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu, 730000 China
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Lei Huang
Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Yuhe Zhao
College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu, 730000 China.
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Alfredo R Huete
University of Technology Sydney
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A large portion of Central-Western Asia is made up of contiguous closed basins, collectively termed as the Asian Endorheic Basins (AEB). As these retention basins are only being replenished by the intermittent precipitation, increasing droughts in the region and a growing demand for water have been presumed to jointly contributed to the land degradation. To understand the impact of climate change and human activities on dryland vegetation over the AEB, we conducted trend and partial correlation analysis of vegetation and hydroclimatic change from 2001 to 2021 using multi-satellite observations, including vegetation greenness, total water storage anomalies (TWSA) and meteorological data. Here we show that much of the AEB (65.53%) exhibited a greening trend over the past two decades. Partial correlation analyses indicated that climatic factors had varying effects on vegetation productivity as a function of vegetation types and aridity. In arid AEB, precipitation dominated the vegetation productivity trend. Such a rainfall dominance gave way to TWSA dominance in the hyper-arid AEB. We further showed that the decoupling of rainfall and hyper-arid vegetation greening was largely due to a significant expansion (17.3%) in irrigated cropland across the hyper-arid AEB. Given the extremely harsh environment in the hyper-arid AEB, our results therefore raised the concerns on the ecological and societal sustainability in this region, where a mild increase in precipitation might not be able to catch up the rising evaporative demand and water consumption resulted from global warming and irrigation intensification.
10 May 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
13 May 2023Published in ESS Open Archive