Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (7): 791-802.doi: 10.1007/s11442-016-1299-7

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Advances in terrestrial system research in China

Shaohong WU1(), Yunhe YIN1, Du *ZHENG1(), Qinye YANG1, Haoyu DENG1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2016-03-02 Accepted:2016-04-15 Online:2016-07-25 Published:2016-07-25
  • About author:

    Author: Wu Shaohong, PhD and Professor, specialized in physical geography. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Zheng Du, Professor and CAS Academician, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41530749


Land surface is of spatial-temporal heterogeneity. Terrestrial system (TS) comprehensively studies on land surface and physical regionalization objectively describes geographical zonation of the system. China has a vast area with apparent spatial variations in resources and environmental conditions, which highly influence on socio-economic development. In this paper, progress of the TS studies in China is overviewed and research priorities in the near future are prospected. Since the 1950s, China has paid great attention to the TS study as its socio-economic development, and conducted research on physical geographical regionalization, eco-geographical regionalization and comprehensive regionalization. Along with the deepening of global change research, dynamics of TS have been highly concerned. During the studies, methodology has been developed from qualitative research of integration of experts’ brainpower gradually to quantitative research based on field observation and experiments of the natural processes, including physical, chemical and biological processes, as well as application of information technology and mathematical simulation. In the near future, TS would combine with the ideology, objectives and key researches of Future Earth program, to focus on the mechanism and regional effects of interaction among land surface elements, the response of TS to global change, the quantitative recognition on regional unit boundary, and the application to TS in sustainable socio-economic development.

Key words: terrestrial system, differentiation rules, global change, sustainable development, China