Changes in NDVI and population in protected areas on the Tibetan plateau.
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Changes in NDVI and population in protected areas on the Tibetan plateau.

  • Author(s): Gillespie, Thomas;
  • Madson, Austin;
  • Cusack, Conor;
  • Xue, Yongkang
  • et al.

Understanding the Tibetan Plateau’s role in environmental change has gained increasing scientific attention in light of warming and changes in landmanagement. We examine changes in greenness over the Tibetan Plateau using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from the Global Inventory Monitoring and Modeling Study (GIMMS3g) to identify significant changes over the entire plateau, six ecoregions, and protected areas based on a multiyear time series of July imagery from 1982 to 2015. We also test whether there have been changes in human populations in protected areas. There has been relatively little change in mean NDVI over the Tibetan Plateau or ecoregions, however, there were significant changes at the pixel level. There are sixty-nine protected areas on the Tibetan Plateau; sixtytwo protected areas had no significant change in mean NDVI and seven protected areas experienced a significant increase in NDVI. There has been an increase in population within protected areas from 2000 to 2015; however, mean populations significantly increased in two protected areas and significantly decreased in four protected areas. Results suggest a slow greening of the Tibetan Plateau, ecoregions, and protected areas, with a more rapid greening in northern Tibet at the pixel level. Most protected areas are experiencing minor changes in NDVI independent of human population.

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