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Technische Universität Dresden (2014)

Spatiotemporal studies of evapotranspiration in Inner Mongolian grasslands

Schaffrath David

Titre : Spatiotemporal studies of evapotranspiration in Inner Mongolian grasslands

Auteur : Schaffrath David

Université de soutenance : Technische Universität Dresden

Grade : Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. nat.) 2014

Inner Mongolian grasslands are part of the vast Eurasian steppe belt and were used for nomadic pastoralism for thousands of years. As a result of political and economic changes in China in the last century, this mobile grazing management has been replaced by a sedentary and intensified livestock production. Stocking rates have increased substantially, overshooting the carrying capacity of the grasslands. These land use changes have induced severe grassland degradation. The impact and causes of grassland degradation have been investigated by the Sino-German joint research group MAGIM (Matter fluxes in grasslands of Inner Mongolia as influenced by stocking rate) in the Xilin River catchment of Inner Mongolia since 2004. This work is part of subproject P6, which amongst others pursues the goal of quantifying water balance exchange by micrometeorology and remote sensing.
The dominating process of water balance losses in Inner Mongolian grasslands is evapotranspiration (ET), whereby water vapour is released into the lower atmosphere. ET is highly variable in both time and space in this semi-arid environment, as it is coupled with the typically fluctuating amount of precipitation (P). However, despite ET being the key output process of the hydrological cycle of Inner Mongolian grasslands and despite its important role as an indicator for ecosystem functioning, little is known about its spatiotemporal distribution and variability in this remote area. Recent studies on ET have demonstrated variations due to phenology, soil moisture and land use, but these studies have been limited to short periods and have been conducted on a few field sites in close proximity with debatable representativeness for the 2600 km² of grasslands in the Xilin River catchment. The development of a number of remote sensing methods in the last decades has introduced various approaches to determining spatial ET from space, but the application of remotely sensed ET in regional long-term studies is still problematic. Nevertheless, a variety of surface parameters are provided by the sensor MODIS (moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer) at a resolution of approx. 1km.
The aim of this work was (1) to close the gap between the limitations of available local ET measurements and the need for long-term studies on spatial ET in Inner Mongolian grasslands and (2) to analyse the spatiotemporal variability of ET and its implications on livestock management in this area. Therefore, micrometeorological data, remote sensing products and hydrological modelling with BROOK90 were integrated to model spatial ET for the grasslands of the Xilin River catchment over 10 years. The hydrological model BROOK90 calculates ET based on a modified Penman-Monteith approach including the separation of energy into transpiration and soil evaporation. The spatial application of the model was based on a land use classification restricted to the land use unit typical steppe. BROOK90 was parameterised from eddy covariance measurements, soil characteristics and MODIS leaf area index (LAI). Location and canopy parameters were provided individually, as well as the essential daily model input, including P and air temperatures for each pixel. Minimum and maximum air temperatures were calculated based on a relationship between measured air temperatures and MODIS surface temperatures (R²=0.92 and R²=0.87, n=81). Spatial P was estimated from a relationship found between the measured cumulative P of six rain gauges within the grasslands and the increase of MODIS LAI around these measurements (R²=0.80, n=270).

Mots clés  : Xilin, Niederschlag, Verdunstung, Beweidung, Variabilität, semi-arid — Steppe, Grassland, Xilin, Precipitation, Evapotranspiration, Grazing, long-term, semi-arid

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