Spatial and Temporal Variations of Rice Paddy as Influenced by Climate Change in the Sanjiang Plain, Northeastern China
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The Sanjiang Plain is located in the eastern part of Heilongjiang Province, Northeastern China, and represents one of major agricultural regions nationwide. Over past decades, this region has seen intensive cropland reclamation and a sharp shrinkage of natural vegetation and water bodies, driven by not only policy-making and economic development, but also a warming climate. However, it still remains unclear how climate change has influenced the magnitude and spatial patterns of land use changes. In this study, we examined spatial and temporal variations of rice paddy planting area during 1980-2008 through an integration of the remote-sensing images, the census data, and other existing land use/cover data sets. The daily gridded climate data sets were generated by using an interpolation method of thin plate smoothing splines, based on observations from over 70 meteorological stations across the study area. Our results suggest that the rice paddy planting area increased by more than 10-fold during 1980-2008, with more obvious upward trends during two sub-periods, i.e. 1995-1998 and 2004-2008. Further analyses indicated that the rice paddy planting area accounted for approximately 20.3% of total cropland area in 2008, increasing more than seven-fold as compared to 1980. When investigating spatially, we found that the planting boundary of rice paddy expanded northward for roughly 2 degree, comparing to 1984 when most of rice paddies were found in the north of the 48o N. Most of increases of rice paddy planting area occurred in the northeast of the study region. The climate analyses showed a significant warming trend, with a slightly decrease in precipitation. During the study period, the suitable areas for rice production increased about 25% and expanded northward clearly. Our study demonstrated how climate change influenced the magnitude and spatial patterns of rice paddy planting area in the Sanjiang Plain, which could provide scientific information for the environmental assessment and related policy-making. It implies that climate change could result in substantial land use/cover changes through climate adaption strategies that humans adopted. While, how to compromise those adaption strategies and environmental sustainability (e.g., preserving water resources and biodiversity) need further invstigation.