Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (2): 180-196.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1591-4

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatio-temporal distribution and transformation of cropland in geomorphologic regions of China during 1990-2015

Xiaoyu GAO1,2(), Weiming CHENG1,2,3(), Nan WANG1,2, Qiangyi LIU1,2, Ting MA1, Yinjun CHEN4, Chenghu ZHOU1   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
    4. Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning of CAAS, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2018-09-06 Accepted:2018-11-07 Online:2019-02-25 Published:2019-02-25
  • About author:

    Author: Gao Xiaoyu (1994-), Master, specialized in cropland use and agricultural resources management. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41421001, No.41590845, No.41571388;National Key Basic Research Program, No.2015CB954101


Landforms are an important factor determining the spatial pattern of cropland through allocation of surface water and heat. Therefore, it is of great importance to study the change in cropland distribution from the perspective of geomorphologic divisions. Based on China’s multi-year land cover data (1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015) and geomorphologic regionalization data, we analyzed the change in cropland area and its distribution pattern in six geomorphologic regions of China over the period of 1990-2015 with the aid of GIS techniques. Our results showed that the total cropland area increased from 177.1 to 178.5 million ha with an average increase rate of 0.03%. Cropland area decreased in southern China and increased in northern China. Region I (Eastern hilly plains) had the highest cropland increase rate, while the cropland dynamic degree of Region IV (Northwestern middle and high mountains, basins and plateaus) was significantly higher than that of other regions. The barycenter of China’s cropland shifted from northern China to the northwest over the 25-year period. Regions IV and I were the two regions with the greatest increase of cropland. Region II (Southeastern low and middle mountains) and Region V (Southwestern middle and low mountains, plateaus and basins) were the main decreasing cropland regions. The area of cropland remained almost unchanged in Region III (Northern China and Inner Mongolia eastern-central mountains and plateaus) and Region VI (Tibetan Plateau). The loss of cropland occurred mostly in Regions I and II as a result of growing industrialization and urbanization, while the increase of cropland occurred mainly in Region IV because of reclamation of grassland and other wasteland. These analyzing results would provide fundamental information for further studies of urban planning, ecosystem management, and natural resources conservation in China.

Key words: spatio-temporal distribution, transformation of cropland, geomorphologic regions, China