Evapotranspiration over artificially planted shrub communities in the shifting sand dune area of the Tengger Desert, north central China

Gao, Y. H., et al., 2016. Ecohydrology

Original research (primary data)
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Revegetation is a common method to combat desertification in arid and semi-arid areas worldwide. The objective of this study was to characterize the evapotranspiration (ET) of a 20-year-old revegetated area of the Tengger Desert. During the measurement period from 2009 to 2012, ET was measured by the eddy covariance technique. The result showed that the values for mean daily ET were 0.43, 0.39, 0.43 and 0.59mmd-1 in 2009-2012, respectively. In the non-growing season, the diurnal ET variation showed a normal distribution with a maximum value occurring at noon, while it showed multimodal distribution trend occurred in a dry day and a unimodal trend in a wet day with a maximum value occurring at noon in the growing season. During the 4-year measurements, despite the large inter-annual variation of precipitation (annual mean precipitation of 164.4±33.5mm), the water loss through ET (667.5mm) was almost equal to rainfall (657.8mm), and the mean of ET/P was 1.01.The annual ET amounts were 153.6, 143.3, 156.2 and 214.4mmy-1 in 2009-2012, respectively, with corresponding ratio between accumulated ET and precipitation (ET/P) of 1.03, 1.14, 0.82 and 1.12. This indicated that the annual ET amounts can be modified by the soil water storage, which led to water loss through ET exceeding the water input by precipitation in a drier year, and soil water can be replenished in a wetter year. Thus, the vegetation protection system using plantations of xerophyte shrubs in the present study area is a success with a trade-off of acceptable hydrological consequences that deserve to be popularized.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-062-1
  • Intervention type: Created habitats
  • Intervention description:

    Revegetation: The combination of windbreaks, straw checkerboards and plantations of xerophytic shrubs … forming 16-km green corridor along the railway with width of 700 m in the north and 500 m in the south Xerophytic shrubs, such as Caragana korshinskii and Artemisia Ordosica are the dominant species introduced in the revegetated area following the stabilization of shifting sand dune by straw checkerborder. Note: labeled as created because no reference to restoring natural vegetation to the area. Although species they select are chosen b/c likely compatible with the xeric conditions, don't mention that the area used to have and has now lost a xerophytic shrub community. Instead, these species are selected for the main purpose that they hopefully will survive in these conditions and therefore stabilize the dunes "Inappropriate plantations consume too much water because of increased ET, and thus undermine the natural water balance (Wilske et al., 2009). These unintended problems can be alleviated by selecting water-saving species and suitable planting techniques (Cao, 2008). In the severely arid area of north China with precipitation < 200 mm, water-saving xerophytic shrubs were usually experimentally selected as useful species to stabilize the shifting sand dunes to protect infrastructure or traffic lines from encroachment in arid deserts."

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: No
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Reduced water availability  Negative Soil water content, soil water recharge
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    the Shapotou region, bordering the Tengger Desert, northwest China

  • Country: China
  • Habitat/Biome type: Created other |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: Effectiveness evaluated by comparing measures to results to control areas with no intervention from another study
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: No
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Not reported
  • Ecosystem measures:
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: No
  • Impacts for people: Not reported
  • People measures:
  • Considers economic costs: No
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: No
  • Experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Empirical case study
  • Study is systematic: