CR 69:1-8 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01385

Response of dune activity on the Tibetan Plateau to near future climate change

Benli Liu1,*, Jianjun Qu1,2, Shichang Kang

1Dunhuang Gobi Desert Ecological and Engineering Research Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, PR China
2Gansu Center for Sand Hazard Reduction Engineering and Technology, Lanzhou 730000, PR China
3State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, PR China
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Four general circulation models (GCMs) under the moderate Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 emission scenario were used to evaluate the impact of climate change on monthly scale dune activity and desertification during the near future (2015-2035) in Anduo on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) of China. Dune activity was estimated by an improved index that uses the Penman-Monteith equation to account for comprehensive climate factors, including precipitation, air temperature, wind speed, humidity, and air pressure. Lower limits were used for the evapotranspiration values and the ratio of rainfall to evapotranspiration so that it was possible to calculate a dune activity index in the cold and dry winter months in the TP. The GCM outputs were transferred by statistical functions built from the control period (1966-2005), and the overlapping period of GCM projections and observations from 2006-2014 was used for error estimation. The results show that all GCMs captured the variation in dune activity well, although large differences in values were found. The statistical transferring of GCM outputs cannot reduce estimation error. The annual dune activity index is predicted to decrease by 7 to 9% during 2015-2035, implying that sand dunes will be easily stabilized in the future, but the 4 GCMs differ in January and February. If excessive surface disturbances can be controlled, the future environment in the studied area will be suitable for the reversal of the desertification trend, recovery of degraded land, and improvement of the living conditions for local herders.


KEY WORDS: Dune activity index · Penman-Monteith equation · General circulation models · GCMs · Statistical transfer


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Cite this article as: Liu B, Qu J, Kang S (2016) Response of dune activity on the Tibetan Plateau to near future climate change. Clim Res 69:1-8. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01385

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