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Journal of Geographical Sciences    2019, Vol. 29 Issue (5) : 730-748     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-019-1624-z
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Quantifying the vertical distribution pattern of land-use conversion in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province 1995-2015
CAO Zhi1,2(),LI Yurui1,2,*(),LIU Zhengjia1,2,YANG Lingfan3
1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
2. Center for Assessment and Research on Targeted Poverty Alleviation, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
3. Faculty of Geographical Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
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Abstract  

The mountainous and hilly region plays an important role in ecological safety and production in China. However, recent studies have poorly characterized the parallel structure of land use in the valleys of the mountainous and hilly region using topographic factors (e.g. elevation, slope, aspect). Here, the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province is used as a representative case area to analyze the vertical distribution pattern of land-use conversion using the relative elevation concept and the HAND index. The differences in the vertical structure of land-use conversion between absolute elevation and relative elevation were compared. We found that the classifications of absolute and relative elevation had similar proportions of each relative elevation grade in each absolute elevation grade. Cropland, woodland, and grassland were distributed evenly in each grade of absolute/relative elevation, while water body, built-up land and unused land were more likely to spread in low grades of relative elevation than those of absolute elevation. The land-use conversion (i.e. loss of cropland and gain in woodland and built-up land) showed an apparently stepped distribution with relative elevation classification, suitable for revealing vertical distributions of land-use conversion in the loess hilly region. Cropland transformed to woodland was mainly distributed in high grade of relative elevation, decreasing with a decrease in grades, while built-up land transformed from cropland and grassland was mainly distributed in low grade of relative elevation, decreasing with increases in grades. The grade of relative elevation where cropland transformed to woodland descended with the implementation of the Grain for Green Project. Our results suggest that it is better to analyze the vertical distribution of land-use conversion with relative elevation classification in hilly regions.

Keywords land use change      vertical distribution pattern      topographic factors      HAND (Height above the Nearest Drainage)      loess hilly region      northern Shaanxi Province     
Fund:National Key Research and Development Program of China, No.2017YFC0504701;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41801175;Postdoctoral Science Foundation of China, No.2018M631558
Corresponding Authors: LI Yurui     E-mail: caoz.14b@igsnrr.ac.cn;liyr@igsnrr.ac.cn
Issue Date: 19 April 2019
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CAO Zhi
LI Yurui
LIU Zhengjia
YANG Lingfan
Cite this article:   
CAO Zhi,LI Yurui,LIU Zhengjia, et al. Quantifying the vertical distribution pattern of land-use conversion in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province 1995-2015[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2019, 29(5): 730-748.
URL:  
http://www.geogsci.com/EN/10.1007/s11442-019-1624-z     OR     http://www.geogsci.com/EN/Y2019/V29/I5/730
Figure 1  The digital elevation map of the loess hilly region in northern Shaanxi Province
Figure 2  The schematic of relative elevation (RE) calculation method
Figure 3  Statistical characteristics of grid-based absolute elevation and relative elevation in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province
Figure 4  Patterns of grid-based absolute elevation and relative elevation in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province
Absolute
elevation (m)
Relative elevation (m, %) Total
(AE)
0-23 23-55 55-84 84-120 120-554
374-1033 6.35 4.55 3.62 3.05 2.51 20.09
1033-1147 4.00 4.85 4.61 3.86 2.73 20.04
1147-1270 3.46 4.49 4.57 4.28 3.30 20.09
1270-1449 3.71 3.39 3.79 4.49 4.56 19.93
1449-1913 2.78 3.10 3.28 4.23 6.46 19.86
Total (RE) 20.30 20.37 19.87 19.90 19.56 100.00
Table 1  Cross matrix between different classifications of absolute elevation (AE) and relative elevation (RE) in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province
Figure 5  Structure of land use with absolute elevation and relative elevation in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province in 2015
Note: abbreviations are defined as the two letters indicating land use types and the last two letters indicating classification of absolute/relative elevation. CL, cropland; WL, woodland; GL, grassland; WB, water body; BL, built-up land; UL, unused land; AE, classification of absolute elevation; RE, classification of relative elevation. AE1, the first class of absolute elevation; RE1, the first class of relative elevation.
Year 1995 2000 Total
(1995)
Loss Net gain
in 2000
Changes
in 2000
CL WL GL WB BL UL
CL 38.98 0.02 0.03 0.00 0.01 0.05 39.09 0.11 0.01 0.04
WL 0.02 15.44 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 15.48 0.03 0.09 0.55
GL 0.09 0.10 43.68 0.00 0.01 0.01 43.89 0.21 -0.16 -0.37
WB 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.66 0.00 0.00 0.68 0.02 -0.01 -1.80
BL 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.33 0.00 0.33 0.00 0.02 5.29
UL 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.53 0.53 0.01 0.06 10.46
Total (2000) 39.10 15.56 43.73 0.67 0.35 0.59 100.00 0.37
Gain 0.12 0.12 0.05 0.01 0.02 0.06 0.37
Table 2  Transitions in percentages of total land use observed in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province during 1995-2000 (%)
Year 2000 2005 Total
(2000)
Loss Net gain
in 2005
Changes
in 2005
CL WL GL WB BL UL
CL 37.23 1.06 0.77 0.00 0.04 0.00 39.10 1.87 -1.79 -4.58
WL 0.00 15.55 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 15.56 0.01 1.54 9.87
GL 0.06 0.49 43.15 0.00 0.01 0.02 43.73 0.58 0.22 0.50
WB 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.65 0.00 0.00 0.67 0.01 -0.01 -1.03
BL 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.35 0.00 0.35 0.00 0.05 13.49
UL 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.57 0.59 0.02 0.00 -0.15
Total (2005) 37.31 17.10 43.94 0.66 0.40 0.59 100.00 2.49
Gain 0.08 1.55 0.79 0.01 0.05 0.02 2.49
Table 3  Transitions in percentages of total land use observed in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province during 2000-2005 (%)
Year 2005 2010 Total
(2005)
Loss Net gain
in 2010
Changes
in 2010
CL WL GL WB BL UL
CL 37.08 0.17 0.05 0.00 0.01 0.00 37.31 0.23 -0.22 -0.60
WL 0.00 17.09 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 17.10 0.00 0.23 1.37
GL 0.00 0.07 43.87 0.00 0.00 0.00 43.94 0.07 -0.02 -0.04
WB 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.66 0.00 0.00 0.66 0.00 0.00 0.58
BL 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.40 0.00 0.40 0.00 0.01 2.38
UL 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.58 0.59 0.01 0.00 -0.75
Total (2010) 37.09 17.33 43.92 0.66 0.41 0.58 100.00 0.31
Gain 0.00 0.24 0.06 0.01 0.01 0.00 0.31
Table 4  Transitions in percentages of total land use observed in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province during 2005-2010 (%)
Year 2010 2015 Total
(2010)
Loss Net gain
in 2015
Changes
in 2015
CL WL GL WB BL UL
CL 36.93 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.11 0.03 37.09 0.15 -0.11 -0.29
WL 0.01 17.28 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.02 17.33 0.05 -0.05 -0.30
GL 0.03 0.00 43.66 0.01 0.17 0.06 43.92 0.27 -0.26 -0.59
WB 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.65 0.00 0.00 0.66 0.01 0.01 1.61
BL 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.41 0.00 0.41 0.00 0.32 77.88
UL 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.56 0.58 0.02 0.09 15.80
Total (2015) 36.98 17.28 43.66 0.67 0.73 0.68 100.00 0.51
Gain 0.04 0.00 0.01 0.02 0.32 0.11 0.51
Table 5  Transitions in percentages of total land use observed in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province during 2010-2015 (%)
Year 1995 2015 Total
(1995)
Loss Net gain
in 2015
Changes
in 2015
CL WL GL WB BL UL
CL 36.75 1.24 0.85 0.01 0.16 0.07 39.09 2.33 -2.11 -5.40
WL 0.03 15.39 0.02 0.00 0.02 0.02 15.48 0.09 1.80 11.65
GL 0.17 0.65 42.78 0.02 0.19 0.08 43.89 1.11 -0.22 -0.51
WB 0.02 0.00 0.01 0.64 0.01 0.00 0.68 0.04 0.00 -0.67
BL 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.33 0.00 0.33 0.00 0.39 117.62
UL 0.01 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.02 0.50 0.53 0.03 0.14 26.77
Total (2015) 36.98 17.28 43.66 0.67 0.73 0.68 100.00 3.61
Gain 0.22 1.89 0.88 0.04 0.39 0.17 3.61
Table 6  Transitions in percentages of total land use observed in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province during 1995-2015 (%)
Figure 6  Patterns of land use change in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province during 1995-2000, 2000-2005, 2005-2010, 2010-2015, and 1995-2015
Note: The abbreviations “CL”, “WL”, “GL”, “BL” and “UL” are defined in the note for Figure 5.
Figure 7  Structure of land use change with absolute elevation and relative elevation in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province during 1995-2000, 2000-2005, 2005-2010, 2010-2015, and 1995-2015
Note: the abbreviations are based on the period and classification of absolute/relative elevation, e.g. 95-00AE for 1995-2000 and AE indicates classification with absolute elevation; RE indicates classification with relative elevation.
Time Absolute elevation Relative elevation
Type Class % Type Class %
1995-2000 GL→WL
GL→CL
GL→WL
GL→CL
CL→UL
C5
C1
C1
C2
C3
9.02
7.13
6.31
6.06
5.88
GL→WL
GL→WL
GL→CL
GL→CL
GL→WL
C1
C2
C5
C2
C3
7.26
6.12
5.37
5.17
4.92
2000-2005 CL→GL
CL→WL
CL→GL
CL→WL
CL→WL
C3
C4
C2
C5
C1
10.56
10.34
10.01
9.37
7.90
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→GL
CL→GL
C5
C4
C3
C4
C3
12.99
10.38
8.15
7.67
6.92
2005-2010 CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→WL
GL→WL
C2
C1
C5
C3
C3
14.79
14.05
11.02
9.94
7.77
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→WL
C5
C4
C3
C2
C1
13.25
13.05
11.63
9.60
7.37
2010-2015 GL→BL
CL→BL
CL→BL
GL→BL
GL→UL
C3
C3
C1
C2
C1
19.07
8.14
6.56
6.13
4.59
GL→BL
GL→BL
CL→BL
GL→BL
CL→BL
C1
C2
C1
C3
C2
12.33
11.42
8.90
6.55
5.65
1995-2015 CL→GL
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→GL
CL→WL
C3
C4
C5
C2
C1
7.97
7.66
7.43
7.28
6.72
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→WL
CL→GL
CL→WL
C5
C4
C3
C4
C2
10.13
8.29
6.64
5.65
5.35
Table 7  The five top ranked land-use conversion types in absolute and relative elevation in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province
Figure 8  Vertical distribution of main land-use conversion types with two classifications of absolute elevation and relative elevation in the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province during 2000-2005, 2005-2010 and 2010-2015
Note: The abbreviations “CL”, “WL”, “GL”, “BL” and “UL” are defined in the note for Figure 5 and abbreviations for “C1”, “C2”, “C3”,” “C4” and “C5” are defined in the note for Figure 7.
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