Comparison of the spatio-temporal dynamics of vegetation between the Changbai Mountains of eastern Eurasia and the Appalachian Mountains of eastern North America

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The Changbai Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains have similar spatial contexts. The elevation, latitude, and moisture gradients of both mountain ranges offer regional insight for investigating the vegetation dynamics in eastern Eurasia and eastern North America. We determined and compared the spatial patterns and temporal trends in the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) in the Changbai Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains using time series data from the Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies 3rd generation dataset from 1982 to 2013. The spatial pattern of NDVI in the Changbai Mountains exhibited fragmentation, whereas NDVI in the Appalachian Mountains decreased from south to north. The vegetation dynamics in the Changbai Mountains had an insignificant trend at the regional scale, whereas the dynamics in the Appalachian Mountains had a significant increasing trend. NDVI increased in 55% of the area of the Changbai Mountains and in 95% of the area of the Appalachian Mountains. The peak NDVI occurred one month later in the Changbai Mountains than in the Appalachian Mountains. The results revealed a significant increase in NDVI in autumn in both mountain ranges. The climatic trend in the Changbai Mountains included warming and decreased precipitation, and whereas that in the Appalachian Mountains included significant warming and increased precipitation. Positive and negative correlations existed between NDVI and temperature and precipitation, respectively, in both mountain ranges. Particularly, the spring temperature and NDVI exhibited a significant positive correlation in both mountain ranges. The results of this study suggest that human actives caused the differences in the spatial patterns of NDVI and that various characteristics of climate change and intensity of human actives dominated the differences in the NDVI trends between the Changbai Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. Additionally, the vegetation dynamics of both mountain ranges were not identical to those in previous broader-scale studies.

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Journal of Mountain Science