COS 9-2
Dynamics of coupled natural and human systems on the Mongolian Plateau

Monday, August 10, 2015: 1:50 PM
323, Baltimore Convention Center
Jiquan Chen, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations (CGCEO), Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Central to the concept of coupled natural and human (CNH) systems is the understanding that humans and nature are organized into interacting sub-systems, forming ­a cohesive whole at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In light of the challenges brought by implementing the CNH concept at regional level, we used Mongolia Plateau as a test bed to examine the CNH dynamics in Inner Mongolia (IM) and Mongolia (MG) during 1981-2010. Its widely available measurements of states in the social, economic, and ecological systems and its gross domestic product, population size, net primary productivity, livestock, and their ratios were all considered. Our cross-border analysis of the coupled dynamics over the past three decades demonstrate striking contrasts between IM and MG, while policy played shifting roles on the above measures. We developed a simple structural equation model (SEM) for a comprehensive assessment, which includes three latent variables: LSKD, NPP, and land use and land cover change (LULCC). 


Treating the Mongolian Plateau as a whole, we found that LSKD, POPD, and NPP are all positively correlated; with a weak correlation found between LSKD and NPP (r=0.12) and a strong correlation found between both LSKD and LULCC (r=0.75) and NPP and LULCC (r=0.75). POPD showed significant positive effects on LSKD, while NPP had an insignificant or weak negative effect. EVI and P had significant, positive relationships with NPP, but albedo had a significantly negative effect. In addition, precipitation affected EVI positively and albedo negatively. The directions and strengths of the above relationships were not always consistent for IM and MG as independent systems. The addition of policy shifts to our SEM significantly changed the strengths of the above relationships in both IM and MG. The WTO in China and the collapse of the former Soviet Union in MG were two shifts included in our policy-inclusion SEMs. For both IM and MG, policy weakened the relationship between LSKD and LULCC, but strengthened the connections of LSKD~NPP and LULCC~NPP.