The dominant role of climate change in determining changes in evapotranspiration in Xinjiang, China from 2001 to 2012

Publication Type:
Journal Article
PLoS ONE, 2017, 12 (8)
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Yuan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China has experienced significant land cover and climate change since the beginning of the 21st century. However, a reasonable simulation of evapotranspiration (ET) and its response to environmental factors are still unclear. For this study, to simulate ET and its response to climate and land cover change in Xinjiang, China from 2001 to 2012, we used the Common Land Model (CoLM) by adding irrigation effects for cropland and modifying root distributions and the root water uptake process for shrubland. Our results indicate that mean annual ET from 2001 to 2012 was 131.22 (±21.78) mm/year and demonstrated no significant trend (p = 0.12). The model simulation also indicates that climate change was capable of explaining 99% of inter-annual ET variability; land cover change only explained 1%. Land cover change caused by the expansion of croplands increased annual ET by 1.11 mm while climate change, mainly resulting from both decreased temperature and precipitation, reduced ET by 21.90 mm. Our results imply that climate change plays a dominant role in determining changes in ET, and also highlight the need for appropriate land-use strategies for managing water sources in dryland ecosystems within Xinjiang.
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