Current position:observation site > Sites > Desert Ecosystem > Shapotou


 Shapotou Desert Experiment and Research Station (Shapotou station) is supported by Cold and Arid Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and located in Zhongwei county in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region at the southeast edge of the Tengger Desert (37°28'N, 105°00'E, 1320m.a.s.l)with an elevation of 1320 m, which is an ecotone between steppified desert and desertified steppe. The flux station is conducted in the carbon flux experimental fields of the Shapotou station, located in the Xiaohongshan area of Zhongwei county (37°29′46.74"N, 104°25′32.9"E), west 60 km of the Shapotou station, with an elevation of 1665m, which is typical desert vegetation.


 Shapotou area is belonging to the temperate zone with typical desertified climate. The annual mean temperature is nearly 10.0 ℃,with the lowest mean monthly temperature of -6.9℃ in January and maximum mean monthly temperature 24.3 ℃ in July and sunshine hours are 2730 and plant growing period is 150-180 days. Total annual mean precipitation 186 mm and approximately 80% is falling between May and September. The evapotranspiration potential during the growing season is 2900 mm. Days of annual frostless season is179. Average annual wind velocity is 2.9 m s-1.

Vegetation and soil

  The study area is an ecotone between steppified desert and desertified steppe and the dominant species are sub-shrubs, shrub and herb. The predominant native plants are Reaumuria soongorica, Salsola passerina, Caragana stenophylla, Oxytropis aciphylla, Caragana korshinsikii, Ceratoides lateens, Hedysarum scoparium, Artemisia sphaerocephala, Artemisia ordosica, Agriophyllum squarrosum, Stipa breviflora, Enneapogon brachystachyus, Carex stenophylloides, Tragus berteronianus, Cleistogennes songorica. Predominant typically shrubs under the flux station are Reaumuria soongorica and Salsola passerina, with the vegetation cover of 30%. The height of Reaumuria soongorica and Salsola passerina are nearly 40 and 30 cm, respectively. The soil is Aeolian sandy soil. Bulk density is 1.37 g cm-3, with a sand, clay and silica content of 65.3%, 30.3% and 4.4%, respectively. Soil organic matter was1.49 g/kg and soil nitrogen was 1.08g/kg.

Observation system

 Eddy covariance system in the carbon flux experimental fields of the Shapotou Station was conducted from July 2009. A fast respond (10 HZ) three-dimensional sonic anemometer (CSAT3, Campbell Scientific, Logan, UT, USA) was used to measure the fluctuations in wind speed, wind direction and temperature and an open-path infrared gas analyzer (LI-7500, LiCor, Lincoln, NE, USA) measured concentrations of water vapor and CO2, which were both mounted 3 m above the soil surface. A data logger (CR5000, Campbell Scientific, Logan, UT) was used to record 10 Hz raw data. Air temperature (Tair) and humidity were measured at a height of 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 m on a tower (HMP45C, Vaisala Inc., Helsinki, Finland). A four-component net radiometer (Rn) (CNR-1, Kipp & Zonen, the Netherlands) was placed 1.5 m above the soil surface. Two self-calibrating soil heat flux sensors (HFP01) were placed 5 cm below the soil surface. Soil temperature (109-L, Campbell Scientific Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) was measured at five depths (0.05, 0.10, 0.15, 0.20, 0.40 m). Soil water content (SWC) (EnviroSMART, Campbell, Scientific Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) profile was measured at seven depths (0.10, 0.20, 0.30, 0.40, 0.60, 0.80, 1.0 m). Average soil temperature (TCAV) was determined at a depth of 0.20 m. Precipitation was measured by a raingauge (TE525MM, Texas Electronics Inc., Dallas, T X, USA).

Principal Investigator

Xinrogn Li


Station director

Xinrong Li

Assistant station director



Yanhong Gao



  • “Strategic Priority Research Program - Climate Change: Carbon Budget and Relevant Issues" of CAS.

               The status, rate, mechanism and the potential of carbon sequestration for desert and desertification grassland in Inner Mongolia, ningxia and gansu province.                  (Li Xinrong,    2011-2015)

  •  National Natural Science Foundation of China
  • 1    Variation of carbon flux and its responses to envirionmental factors in Reaumuria soongorica-Salsola passerina community in the Tennger.         (Gao Yanhong,    2014-2016)

    2  The shrub patch in Reaumuria soongorica-Salsola passerina community responses of precipitation change and Their Mechanisms.          (Wang Zengru,   2015-2017)

  • The eddy covariance technique was used to measure the carbon flux of a revegetated area in Shapotou area. We found that revegetation in the Shapotou area significantly enhanced carbon fixation compared with the original windblown sand dune area where carbon sequestration was negligible. The revegetated ecosystem is a carbon sink during the growing season when most of the annual precipitation falls. The revegetated area changed from being a carbon source to a sink in the 1 or 2 days following an effective rainfall event. In the non-growing season the ecosystem was a carbon source. The soil water content (SWC) affected the relationship between ecosystem respiration and temperature.

  • We analyzed the dynamics of the carbon net ecosystem exchange (NEE) in the Reaumuria soongorica Maxim. - Salsola passerina Bge. community that is widespread in the arid desert and desertification steppe during 2010 to 2013. We found that in the relative droughty growth season of 2010, the steppied desert ecosystem was a carbon source; in the relative humid growth season of 2011-2013, the vegetation performed as carbon sink. Rainfall events can determine the carbon dynamics in the vegetation area to a large extent and their amounts and intensity play as the decider for the ecosystem being a carbon sink or source.

  • We measured the carbon release in soil with four cover types (moss-crusted soil, algae-crusted soil, mixed (composed of moss, algae and lichen)-crusted soil, and mobile dune sand). We found that following heavy rainfall events, moss-crusted soils showed significantly higher carbon release rates than algae- and mixed-crusted soils and mobile dune sands, respectively. Changes in rainfall patterns, especially large rain pulses affect the contribution of different soil cover types to carbon release amounts; moss-crusted soils sustain higher respiration rates than other biological crusts after short-term extreme rainfall events.

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