Trends and climatic sensitivities of vegetation phenology in semiarid and arid ecosystems in the US Great Basin during 1982–2011
- 1Department of Water Resources and Environment, School of Geographical Sciences and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275, China
- 2Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512, USA
- 3Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA
Abstract. We quantified the temporal trend and climatic sensitivity of vegetation phenology in dryland ecosystems in the US Great Basin during 1982–2011. Our results indicated that vegetation greenness in the Great Basin increased significantly during the study period, and this positive trend occurred in autumn but not in spring and summer. Spatially, increases in vegetation greenness were more apparent in the northwestern, southeastern, and eastern Great Basin but less apparent in the central and southwestern Great Basin. In addition, the start of growing season (SOS) was not advanced while the end of growing season (EOS) was delayed significantly at a rate of 3.0 days per decade during the study period. The significant delay in EOS and lack of earlier leaf onset caused growing season length (GSL) to increase at a rate of 3.0 days per decade. Interestingly, we found that the interannual variation of mean vegetation greenness calculated for the period of March to November (spring, summer, and autumn – SSA) was not significantly correlated with mean surface air temperature in SSA but was strongly correlated with total precipitation. On a seasonal basis, the variation of mean vegetation greenness in spring, summer, and autumn was mainly attributable to changes in pre-season precipitation in winter and spring. Nevertheless, climate warming appeared to play a strong role in extending GSL that, in turn, resulted in the upward trend in mean vegetation greenness. Overall, our results suggest that changes in wintertime and springtime precipitation played a stronger role than temperature in affecting the interannual variability of vegetation greenness, while climate warming was mainly responsible for the upward trend in vegetation greenness we observed in Great Basin dryland ecosystems during the 30-year period from 1982 to 2011.