Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2011, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (6): 1019-1036.doi: 10.1007/s11442-011-0897-7

• Earth Surface Process • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The geo-pattern of course shifts of the Lower Yellow River

WANG Yingjie1, SU Yanjun1,2   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2011-05-10 Revised:2011-06-16 Online:2011-12-15 Published:2011-10-03
  • Contact: Su Yanjun, graduate student, E-mail:
  • About author:Wang Yingjie (1961-), Professor, specialized in spatial information visualization. E-mail:
  • Supported by:

    Project supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, No.2009BAH50B01; No.2008BAK50B05


The changing pattern of the Lower Yellow River (LYR) obtained from the traditional studies, which mainly did literal analysis based on historical documents related to the LYR are too macroscopic and absent of intuitiveness. This paper integrates all the records in historical documents related to course shift, flood and overflow of the last 3000 years and stores them in a GIS database. Then, all the data will be visualized in the form of map, which is helpful to show and understand the rules those events conform more intuitively and accurately. Taking these data as foundation, this study summarizes characteristics of the LYR’s courses and influence scope, and classifies them both into three types; divides the flow directions of the LYR’s courses into two periods, and proposes its changing pattern; concludes the characteristic of diversion points of courses shift events; calculates the velocity of courses shifts, gradient and sinuosity, and analyzes their changing patterns. Finally, this study classifies factors that may influence the occurrence of a course shift into two types: the internal factors, such as sediment rate, gradient and sinuosity of the river, and the external factors, such as precipitation and human activities.

Key words: Lower Yellow River, course shift, visualization, geo-pattern