Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (11): 1283-1310.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1436-y

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Research and perspectives on geomorphology in China: Four decades in retrospect

Weiming CHENG1,2(), Qiangyi LIU1,3, Shangmin ZHAO4, Xiaoyu GAO1,3, Nan WANG1,3   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4. Department of Surveying and Mapping, College of Mining Engineering, Taiyuan University of Technology, Taiyuan 030024, China
  • Received:2017-04-06 Accepted:2017-05-16 Online:2017-11-10 Published:2017-09-07
  • About author:

    Author: Cheng Weiming (1973-), Professor, specialized in digital geomorphology and GIS. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Surveying and Mapping Geoinformation Nonprofit Specific Project, No.201512033;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571388;Major State Basic Research Development Program of China, No.2015CB954101;Innovation Project of LREIS, No.O88RAA04YA


Geomorphology is one of the main subdisciplines of geography. The research achievements and prospects in geomorphology have received considerable attention for a long time. In this paper, a general retrospect of geomorphologic research in China over the past 60 years was firstly addressed, especially the research progress during the last 40 years. Based on a summary of experience and a tendency of development, perspectives of geomorphologic research direction in the future were provided. It is concluded that the discipline of geomorphology has made great progress in the aspects of geomorphologic types, regionalization, as well as their subdisciplines such as dynamic geomorphology, tectonic geomorphology, climatic geomorphology, lithological geomorphology, palaeogeomorphology. We believe that persisting in the unity principle between morphological and genetic types would be conductive for the development of traditional landforms and integrated landforms. In addition, five perspectives aim to enhance China’s geomorphologicl research capacity were proposed. They are: (1) strengthening the research of basic geomorphologic theory and the research of integrated geomorphology to expand the research space; (2) focusing more on the research of geomorphologic structure and geomorphologic function to improve the application ability of geomorphology; (3) constructing a comprehensive resource, environmental, and geomorphologic information system and building a sharing platform to upgrade the intelligent information industry of geomorphology; (4) putting more efforts on the research of coastal geomorphology and marine geomorphology to assist the transformation of China from a maritime country to an ocean power; and (5) cultivating talents and constructing research teams to maintain a sustainable development of China’s geomorphologic research.

Key words: retrospect, perspective, geomorphology, China