Vegetation serves as a key element in the land-atmospheric system, and changes in vegetation can impact the regional water-energy balance via several biophysical processes. This study proposes a new water-energy balance index that estimates the available-water-to-available-energy ratio (WER) by improving upon the Budyko framework, which evaluates climate variation and vegetation change. Moreover, the impact of vegetation greening on WER is quantified in 34 catchments under different climatic conditions. The results show that the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) increased at all the catchments, which indicates that there was a vegetation greening trend in the study area. There are negative relationships between the NDVI and runoffat both water-limited and energy-limited catchments, which demonstrates that both types of catchments became drier due to vegetation greening. Four numerical experiments were executed to quantify the contribution of vegetation greening and climate variations to WER changes. The results show that the calculated WER trends by numerical tests fit well with the observed WER trends (R2 = 0.96). Vegetation greening has positive influences on WER changes under energy-limited conditions, which indicates that residual energy decreases faster than water availability, resulting in less energy for sensible heat, i.e., a cooling effect. Nevertheless, vegetation greening has negative influences on WER under water-limited conditions, which indicates that water availability decreases faster than residual energy, resulting in more energy for sensible heat. Notably, the WER decrease in water-limited catchments is dominated by potential evapotranspiration and NDVI variation, whereas the WER change in energy-limited catchments is dominated by climate variation. This study provides a comprehensive understanding of the relationships among water, energy and vegetation greening under different climatic conditions, which is important for land-atmosphere-vegetation modeling and designing strategies for ecological conservation and local water resource management.
Zhang, D., Liu, X., & Bai, P. (2018). Different influences of vegetation greening on regional water-energy balance under different climatic conditions. Forests, 9(7). https://doi.org/10.3390/f9070412