LAND SURFACE PHENOLOGICAL RESPONSES TO LAND USE AND CLIMATE VARIATION IN A CHANGING CENTRAL ASIA
Advisorvan Leeuwen, Willem J.D.
Committee Chairvan Leeuwen, Willem J.D.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractDuring the last few decades Central Asia has experienced widespread changes in land cover and land use following the socio-economic and institutional transformations of the region catalyzed by the USSR collapse in 1991. The decade-long drought events and steadily increasing temperature regimes in the region came on top of these institutional transformations, affecting the long term and landscape scale vegetation responses. This research is based on the need to better understand the potential ecological and policy implications of climate variation and land use practices in the contexts of landscape-scale changes dynamics and variability patterns of land surface phenology responses in Central Asia. The land surface phenology responses - the spatio-temporal dynamics of terrestrial vegetation derived from the remotely sensed data - provide measurements linked to the timing of vegetation growth cycles (e.g., start of growing season) and total vegetation productivity over the growing season, which are used as a proxy for the assessment of effects of variations in environmental settings. Local and regional scale assessment of the before and after the USSR collapse vegetation response patterns in the natural and agricultural systems of the Central Asian drylands was conducted to characterize newly emerging links (since 1991) between coupled human and natural systems, e.g., socio-economic and policy drivers of altered land and water use and distribution patterns. Spatio-temporal patterns of bioclimatic responses were examined to determine how phenology is associated with temperature and precipitation in different land use types, including rainfed and irrigated agricultural types. Phenological models were developed to examine relationship between environmental drivers and effect of their altitudinal and latitudinal gradients on the broad-scale vegetation response patterns in non-cropland ecosystems of the desert, steppe, and mountainous regional landscapes of Central Asia.The study results demonstrated that the satellite derived measurements of temporal cycles of vegetation greenness and productivity data was a valuable bioclimatic integrator of climatic and land use variation in Central Asia. The synthesis of broad-scale phenological changes in Central Asia showed that linkages of natural and human systems vary across space and time comprising complex and tightly integrated patterns and processes that are not evident when studied separately.