Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (11): 1389-1412.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1442-0

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Chinese progress in geomorphometry

Guonian LV(), Liyang XIONG*(), Min CHEN*(), Guoan TANG, Yehua SHENG, Xuejun LIU, Zhiyao SONG, Yuqi LU, Zhaoyuan YU, Ka ZHANG, Meizhen WANG   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment, Ministry of Education of PRC, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base of Geographical Environment Evolution (Jiangsu Province), Nanjing 210023, China
    3. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
    4. School of Geography Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Received:2017-07-19 Accepted:2017-08-09 Online:2017-11-10 Published:2017-09-07
  • Contact: Liyang XIONG,Min CHEN;;
  • About author:

    Author: Lv Guonian, Professor, specialized in GIS and virtual geographic environment. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41671389, No.41631175, No.41601411, No.41371424.PAPD, No.164320H116


Geomorphometry, the science of digital terrain analysis (DTA), is an important focus of research in both geomorphology and geographical information science (GIS). Given that 70% of China is mountainous, geomorphological research is popular among Chinese scholars, and the development of GIS over the last 30 years has led to significant advances in geomorphometric research. In this paper, we review Chinese progress in geomorphometry based on the published literature. There are three major areas of progress: digital terrain modelling methods, DTA methods, and applications of digital terrain models (DTMs). First, traditional vector- and raster-based terrain modelling methods, including the assessment of uncertainty, have received widespread attention. New terrain modelling methods such as unified raster and vector, high-fidelity, and real-time dynamic geographical scene modelling have also attracted research attention and are now a major focus of digital terrain modelling research. Second, in addition to the popular DTA methods based on topographical derivatives, geomorphological features, and hydrological factors extracted from DTMs, DTA methods have been extended to include analyses of the structure of underlying strata, ocean surface features and even socioeconomic spatial structures. Third, DTMs have been applied to fields including global climate change, analysis of various typical regions, lunar surface and other related fields. Clearly, Chinese scholars have made significant progress in geomorphometry. Chinese scholars have had the greatest international impact in areas including high-fidelity digital terrain modelling and DTM-based regional geomorphological analysis, particularly in the Loess Plateau and the Tibetan Plateau regions.

Key words: geomorphometry, digital terrain model, digital terrain analysis, progress, China