The 840-squaure-mile (2,175-km2) Zhalong Nature Reserve is located in the western part of Heilongjiang province of China. Being well known for its red-crowned cranes, the reserve was listed in the World Important Wetland Contents in 1992 by the United Nations. However, in recent years, Zhalong's wetlands have been facing increasingly threats from both intensified human exploitation and recent climate change. Using meteorological observations over the past 50 years, remote sensing images over the past 30 years, field surveys, and geospatial technologies, we conducted an analysis to improve our understanding of the dynamics of wetlands as a function of socioeconomic factors along with climate change. In this paper, we attempted to address the following coupled issues: 1) recent climate trend in Zhalong area, 2) consequences of increased human activities and changes in policies coupled with climate change, and then 3) suggestions for the improved protection of Zhalong Nature Reserve. The research results indicated that over the past 20 years, the annual average air temperature in the reserve rised significantly. The annual mean temperature increased from its 50 year mean (3.20°C) by 0.11, 0.85 and 1.00 °C for the period of 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, respectively, reflecting a 3.5%, 26.6% and 31.3% increases. The temperature in the springs and falls increased sharply with large fluctuation, while the winter temperature increased a little and no change was observed for the summer period. The annual mean minimum temperature increased significantly, but the maximum values did not change. The results also showed that after the flood in 1988, the average annual precipitation decreased, the mean of 1999-2004 is 358.0mm, decreased by 16.2% in comparison with the mean over the past 50 years (427.1 mm). Meanwhile, the average annual relative humidity from 1996 to 2004 was 59.4%, less than that of the past 50 years (62.1%). Since 1990, more than 60 reservoirs have been built for agricultural and other uses, which have resulted in a significant reduction in water supplies to the reserve. Several fires occurred in 2001 and 2005 indicated that the climate change enhanced the human and nature damages to the wetland. At present, for sustainable development of Zhalong reserve an integrated management approach should be adopted in order to preserve the nature of the reserve to maintain the biodiversity.
Supplementary URL: http://Yankun Sun_Zhalong Climate Change