Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (7): 786-800.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1406-4

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Crop cover reconstruction and its effects on sediment retention in the Tibetan Plateau for 1900-2000

Shicheng LI1,2,3,*(), Zhaofeng WANG1,*(), Yili ZHANG1,2,4()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    3. School of Public Administration, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
    4. CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2016-11-05 Accepted:2017-02-06 Online:2017-07-10 Published:2017-07-10
  • Contact: Shicheng LI,Zhaofeng WANG;;;
  • About author:

    Author: Li Shicheng (1989-), PhD, specialized in historical land use and cover change reconstruction and its ecological effects assessment. E-mail:;

    *Corresponding author: Zhang Yili and Wang Zhaofeng. E-mail:;

  • Supported by:
    Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.XDB03030500;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41371120;The Key Foundation Project of Basic Work of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, No.2012FY111400


Geographically explicit historical land use and land cover datasets are increasingly required in studies of climatic and ecological effects of human activities. In this study, using historical population data as a proxy, the provincial cropland areas of Qinghai province and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) for 1900, 1930, and 1950 were estimated. The cropland areas of Qinghai and the TAR for 1980 and 2000 were obtained from published statistical data with revisions. Using a land suitability for cultivation model, the provincial cropland areas for the 20th century were converted into crop cover datasets with a resolution of 1 × 1 km. Finally, changes of sediment retention due to crop cover change were assessed using the sediment delivery ratio module of the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs (InVEST) model (version 3.3.1). There were two main results. (1) For 1950-1980 the fractional cropland area increased from 0.32% to 0.48% and land use clearly intensified in the Tibetan Plateau (TP), especially in the Yellow River-Huangshui River Valley (YHRV) and the midstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River and its two tributaries valley (YRTT). For other periods of the 20th century, stability was the main trend. (2) For 1950-1980, sediment export increased rapidly in the Minhe autonomous county of the YHRV, and in the Nianchu River and Lhasa River basins of the YRTT, which means that sediment retention clearly decreased in these regions over this period. The results of this assessment provide scientific support for conservation planning, development planning, or restoration activities.

Key words: cropland reconstruction, ecosystem services, InVEST model, the 20th century, Qinghai province, the Tibet Autonomous Region