Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (2): 175-192.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1466-0

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Dynamic identification of soil erosion risk in the middle reaches of the Yellow River Basin in China from 1978 to 2010

Haigen ZHAO1,2,3,4(), Yuyu TANG1, Shengtian YANG1,2()   

  1. 1. School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    3. Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
    4. Beijing Water Science and Technology Institute, Beijing 100048, China
  • Received:2016-12-06 Accepted:2017-03-21 Online:2018-02-10 Published:2018-02-10
  • About author:

    Author: Zhao Haigen (1983-), PhD, specialized in hydrological simulation and remote sensing. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Yang Shengtian (1965-), Professor, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41701517;National Key Project for R&D, No.2016YFC0402403, No.2016YFC0402409


Soil erosion has become a significant environmental problem that threatens ecosystems globally. The risks posed by soil erosion, the trends in the spatial distribution in soil erosion, and the status, intensity, and conservation priority level in the middle reaches of the Yellow River Basin were identified from 1978 to 2010. This study employed a multi-criteria evaluation method integrated with GIS and multi-source remote sensing data including land use, slope gradient and vegetation fractional coverage (VFC). The erosion status in the study region improved from 1978 to 2010; areas of extremely severe, more severe, and severe soil erosion decreased from 0.05%, 0.94%, and 11.25% in 1978 to 0.04%, 0.81%, and 10.28% in 1998, respectively, and to 0.03%, 0.59%, and 6.87% in 2010, respectively. Compared to the period from 1978 to 1998, the area classed as improvement grade erosion increased by about 47,210.18 km2 from 1998 to 2010, while the area classed as deterioration grade erosion decreased by about 17,738.29 km2. Almost all severe erosion regions fall in the 1st and 2nd conservation priority levels, which areas accounted for 3.86% and 1.11% of the study area in the two periods, respectively. This study identified regions where soil erosion control is required and the results provide a reference for policymakers to implement soil conservation measures in the future.

Key words: dynamic identification, soil erosion risk, multi-criteria evaluation, multi-source remote sensing, Yellow River Basin