Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (3): 497-508 .doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0942-1

• Human-Environment Interactions • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Differences between physical and human process simulation in geography: Empirical analysis of two cases

TANG Zhipeng1,2, ZHANG Jin3, LIU Weidong1,2, WU Hong2,4   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. Numerical Prediction Center of China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081, China
    4. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2011-11-28 Revised:2011-12-20 Online:2012-06-15 Published:2012-05-04
  • About author:Tang Zhipeng (1978-), Ph.D and Assistant Professor, specialized in analysis and modeling of regional sustainable development. E-mail:
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41125005; Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.KACX1-YW-1001


Physical geography and human geography are the principal branches of the geographical sciences. Physical process simulation and human process simulation in geography are both quantitative methods used to recover past events and even to forecast events based on precisely determined parameters. There are four differences between physical process simulation and human process simulation in geography, which we summarize with two specific cases, one of which is about a typhoon's development and its precipitation, and the other of which is regarding the evolution of three industrial structures in China. The differences focus on four aspects: the main factors of the research framework; the knowledge background of the systematic analysis framework; the simulation data sources and quantitative method; and the core of the study object and the method of forecast application. As the human- land relationship is the key ideology of the man-land system, the relationship between the physical and human factors is becoming increasingly close at present. Physical process simulation and human process simulation in geography will exhibit crossing and blending in the future to reflect the various geographical phenomena better.

Key words: physical process simulation, human process simulation, geography, human-land system