Response of evapotranspiration to changes in land use and land cover and climate in China during 2001–2013
Land surface evapotranspiration (ET) is a central component of the Earth's global energy balance and water cycle. Understanding ET is important in quantifying the impacts of human influences on the hydrological cycle and thus helps improving water use efficiency and strengthening water use planning and watershed management. China has experienced tremendous land use and land cover changes (LUCC) as a result of urbanization and ecological restoration under a broad background of climate change. This study used MODIS data products to analyze how LUCC and climate change affected ET in China in the period 2001–2013. We examined the separate contribution to the estimated ET changes by combining LUCC and climate data. Results showed that the average annual ET in China decreased at a rate of -0.6 mm/yr from 2001 to 2013. Areas in which ET decreased significantly were mainly distributed in the northwest China, the central of southwest China, and most regions of south central and east China. The trends of four climatic factors including air temperature, wind speed, sunshine duration, and relative humiditywere determined,while the contributions of these four factors to ETwere quantified by combining the ET and climate datasets. Among the four climatic factors, sunshine duration and wind speed had the greatest influence on ET. LUCC data from 2001 to 2013 showed that forests, grasslands and croplands in China mutually replaced each other. The reduction of forests hadmuch greater effects on ET than change by other land cover types. Finally, through quantitative separation of the distinct effects of climate change and LUCC on ET, we conclude that climate change was the more significant than LULC change in influencing ET in China during the period 2001–2013. Effective water resource management and vegetation-based ecological restoration efforts in China must consider the effects of climate change on ET and water availability.