Simulated annual changes in plant functional types and their responses to climate change on the northern Tibetan Plateau
- 1Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
- 2Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
- 3Key Laboratory of Land Surface Process and Climate Change in Cold and Arid Regions, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China
Abstract. Changes in plant functional types (PFTs) have important implications for both climate and water resources. Still, little is known about whether and how PFTs have changed over the past decades on the northern Tibetan Plateau (NTP) where several of the top largest rivers in the world are originated. Also, the relative importance of atmospheric conditions vs. soil physical conditions in affecting PFTs is unknown on the NTP. In this study, we used the improved Lund–Potsdam–Jena Dynamic Global Vegetation Model to investigate PFT changes through examining the changes in foliar projective coverages (FPCs) during 1957–2009 and their responses to changes in root zone soil temperature, soil moisture, air temperature, precipitation and CO2 concentrations. The results show spatially heterogeneous changes in FPCs across the NTP during 1957–2009, with 34 % (13 %) of the region showing increasing (decreasing) trends. Dominant drivers responsible for the observed FPC changes vary with regions and vegetation types, but overall, precipitation is the major factor in determining FPC changes on the NTP with positive impacts. Soil temperature increase exhibits small but negative impacts on FPCs. Different responses of individual FPCs to regionally varying climate change result in spatially heterogeneous patterns of vegetation changes on the NTP. The implication of the study is that fresh water resources in one of the world's largest and most important headwater basins and the onset and intensity of Asian monsoon circulations could be affected because of the changes in FPCs on the NTP.