Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (1): 3-45.doi: 10.1007/s11442-021-1831-2

• Review Article •     Next Articles

Progress and prospects of applied research on physical geography and the living environment in China over the past 70 years (1949-2019)

CHEN Fahu1,2,3(), WU Shaohong3,4,5,*(), CUI Peng2,3,6, CAI Yunlong7, ZHANG Yili2,3,4,5, YIN Yunhe4,5, LIU Guobin8, OUYANG Zhu3,4, MA Wei9, YANG Linsheng3,4,5, WU Duo10, LEI Jiaqiang11, ZHANG Guoyou4,12, ZOU Xueyong13, CHEN Xiaoqing2,6, TAN Minghong3,4,5, WANG Xunming3,4, BAO Anming11, CHENG Weixin4, DANG Xiaohu14, WEI Binggan4,5, WANG Guoliang8, WANG Wuyi4,5, ZHANG Xingquan4, LIU Xiaochen2,15, LI Shengyu11   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. CAS Centre for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
    4. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    5. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    6. Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS, Chengdu 610041, China
    7. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    8. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, China
    9. Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
    10. Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
    11. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
    12. The Geographical Society of China, Beijing 100101, China
    13. Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    14. College of Geology and Environment, Xi'an University of Science and Technology, Xi’an 710054, China
    15. Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2020-08-11 Accepted:2020-10-08 Online:2021-01-25 Published:2021-03-25
  • Contact: WU Shaohong;
  • About author:Chen Fahu, Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China(41530749);Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China(41842050)


Physical geography is a basic research subject of natural sciences. Its research object is the natural environment which is closely related to human living and development, and China’s natural environment is complex and diverse. According to national needs and regional development, physical geographers have achieved remarkable achievements in applied basis and applied research, which also has substantially contributed to the planning of national economic growth and social development, the protection of macro ecosystems and resources, and sustainable regional development. This study summarized the practice and application of physical geography in China over the past 70 years in the following fields: regional differences in natural environments and physical regionalization; land use and land cover changes; natural hazards and risk reduction; process and prevention of desertification; upgrading of medium- and low-yield fields in the Huang-Huai-Hai region; engineering construction in permafrost areas; geochemical element anomalies and the prevention and control of endemic diseases; positioning and observation of physical geographical elements; and identification of geospatial differentiation and geographical detectors. Furthermore, we have proposed the future direction of applied research in the field of physical geography.

Key words: physical geography, scientific practice, applied research, regional development, national strategy