PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2010, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (11): 1326-1332.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2010.11.012

• Original Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Simulating and Assessing the Adaptability of Geographic Distribution of Vegetation to Climate Change in China

YU Li1, LI Kerang2, TAO Bo2, XU Ming2   

  1. 1. Center on Climate Change, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081, China;
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing, 100101, China
  • Received:2010-01-01 Revised:2010-07-01 Online:2010-11-25 Published:2010-11-25


The adaptability of ecosystems to climate change is critical to the projection of future vegetation dynamics and ecosystem functions though it is less studied than the impact of climate change on ecosystems, such as productivity and pattern of vegetation. The time lags of vegetation response to climate change and the relationships between climate and vegetation were used in the current study to simulate the dynamic responses of vegetation to climate change. We used the change direction of vegetation shift to assess the adaptive capacity of vegetation to climate change under the baseline climate condition and the future climate change scenarios, respectively. The results suggest that the vegetation without the capacity to adapt the contemporary climate are most distributed in the transition areas of ecosystems, and the vegetation type takes negative shifts in those areas. Such areas includes the transition zones between forests and shrublands, grasslands and deserts, and the percentage of those areas accounts for 5% of China mainland. Some of the ecosystems located in northern China with forest-shrubland ecotones, Inner Mongolia and eastern China with shurbland-grassland ecotones, and southern Tibetan Plateau with grassland ecosystems, accounting for about 35% of the total area, may not be very well adapted to the contemporary climate. The vegetation will probably degenerate. By the end of this century, most vegetation can adapt to the future climate based on the scenarios of IPCC-SRES-A2 in China. The future climate in northwestern China will be more favorable, and about 84% of vegetation shift will be positive change. Our results also indicate that vegetation in northwestern China is most likely to improve. As to potential change of vegetation by the end of this century, 79% of the vegetation will be likely to adapt to the climatic conditions, but some grassland ecosystems will be threatened by climate change, including those in the southern part of the Tibetan Plateau, Inner Magnolia, and some areas in northwestern China.

Key words: adaptability, China, climate change, ecosystem model, geographic distribution of vegetation