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Agricultural expansion is one of the primary land use changes on the Earth’s surface. The Songnen Plain in Northeast China is renowned for its Black Soil and is one of the most important agricultural regions of this country. In the last century, its population increased 20-fold and excessive areas of grassland were cultivated. Based on a series of decadal land use/land cover data sets in the plain (1910s–2010s), this study simulated the water balance in each decade using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model and assessed the water effects of centurial agricultural expansion. Six variables were simulated to explain the land-atmosphere interaction: precipitation, total evapotranspiration, canopy transpiration, canopy interception evaporation, land evaporation and land surface runoff and infiltration. Agreeing with historical climate reanalysis data, the simulated precipitation in the plain did not have a significant trend. However, the total evapotranspiration significantly increased in the study region. The canopy transpiration and interception evaporation increased and the runoff and infiltration decreased, both indicating a drought effect in soil. The drying trend varied spatially with the strongest pattern in the central plain where large areas of wetlands remain. As a consequence of agricultural expansion, the centurial drying process in the fertile Black Soil may put strong pressure on the crop productivity and food safety of this important agricultural region.


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Zhang, L., Wang, C., Li, X., Zhang, H., Li, W., & Jiang, L. (2018).Impacts of Agricultural Expansion (1910s-2010s) on Water Cycle in the Songneng Plain, Northeast China. Remote Sensing, 10(7), 1108. doi:10.3390/rs10071108

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