The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from NOAA AVHRR Global Vegetation Index (GVI) for Lhasa area in the central Tibetan Plateau from 1985 to 1999 and its relationship with climate conditions (precipitation and temperature) are established in this study. Climate data from the Lhasa meteorological station provided by the Tibet Climate Data Center are used for this analysis. The NDVI-derived vegetation growth patterns show very strong seasonal cycles and interannual variations. The growing season length varies between years. The correlation between NDVI and precipitation (r = 0.75, P < 0.01) in Lhasa area is higher than the correlation between NDVI and temperature (r = 0.63, P < 0.01), suggesting that NDVI is more sensitive to precipitation than temperature in this semiarid climate zone. Furthermore, the time series of NDVI demonstrate a positive trend from 1985 to 1999, which means that the vegetation biomass present on land surface is increasing. This trend is strongly correlated to increased rainfall and temperature from mid-1980s to 1990s in the Lhasa area of the Tibetan Plateau.
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