23 Oct 2023
 | 23 Oct 2023

Determination of appropriate land use/cover pattern based on the hydroclimatic regime to support regional ecological management in the agro-pastoral ecotone of northwest China

Yuzuo Zhu and Xuefeng Xu

Abstract. The agro-pastoral ecotone of northwest China (APENC) has been experiencing large-scale land use/cover change (LUCC) since 1999 as vegetation restoration projects were implemented. Negative environmental effects of excessive re-vegetation have emerged. However, it remains unclear what the optimal mixture of land use/cover in vegetation restoration is to maintain a sustainable ecohydrological environment in the APENC. In this study, we investigate the different scenarios associated with vegetation restoration in the APENC to examine the hydroclimatic impacts of vegetation restoration and identify the proper land use/cover pattern based on hydroclimatic thresholds (cooling surface and higher water conservation) using the Community Land Model version 5.0 (CLM5.0). Results show that the two main types of LUCC in the study region from 2000 to 2015 were the conversion of bare land to grasslands (BL to GRS) and croplands to grasslands (CL to GRS). The BL to GRS decreased the annual mean temperature by -0.17 ℃, while CL to GRS increased the annual mean temperature by 0.96 ℃; ET changes were 53.32 and -184.42 mm yr-1, respectively, leading to an annual spatially averaged land surface temperature (LST) by a cooling range of -0.06 ± 0.15 ℃ and evapotranspiration (ET) increased by a range of 9.70 ± 19.04 mm yr-1 in the study region. The correlation coefficients between biogeophysical characteristics and hydroclimatic change indicated surface albedo was the most sensitive surface characteristic in influencing LST and ET in summer and winter for BL to GRS and CL to GRS, while the LAI + SAI also presented the most significant correlation for CL to GRS throughout the year. Additionally, analysis of change in land use/cover pattern from 2000 to 2015 found that some grids experienced drying and warming as re-vegetation projects due to the offsetting effects of two types of LUCC. Our findings suggest the percentage of grasslands, bare land and croplands in the APENC for 2035 approximately is 60 %, 23 % and 11 %, respectively, which will mitigate the drying and warming surface environment in the semi-arid region. The findings provide important information to support long-term regional sustainable development in the APENC and similar regions.

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Yuzuo Zhu and Xuefeng Xu

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2287', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 Nov 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Yuzuo Zhu, 05 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2287', Inti Lefort, 08 Jan 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Yuzuo Zhu, 05 Feb 2024
Yuzuo Zhu and Xuefeng Xu
Yuzuo Zhu and Xuefeng Xu


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Short summary
Studies have found excessive re-vegetation causes negative environmental effects in the agro-pastoral ecotone of northwest China, while the latest national ecological project plans to expand grasslands to 60 %. Therefore incorporating an appropriate mixture of land use/cover into decision-making is urgently required. Thus, this paper identified the proper land use/cover pattern within the local hydrological and climatic metrics, for the first time, among scenarios simulated by CLM 5.0.