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.
Geomorphology is one of the main subdisciplines of geography. The research achievements and prospects in geomorphology have received considerable attention for a long time. In this paper, a general retrospect of geomorphologic research in China over the past 60 years was firstly addressed, especially the research progress during the last 40 years. Based on a summary of experience and a tendency of development, perspectives of geomorphologic research direction in the future were provided. It is concluded that the discipline of geomorphology has made great progress in the aspects of geomorphologic types, regionalization, as well as their subdisciplines such as dynamic geomorphology, tectonic geomorphology, climatic geomorphology, lithological geomorphology, palaeogeomorphology. We believe that persisting in the unity principle between morphological and genetic types would be conductive for the development of traditional landforms and integrated landforms. In addition, five perspectives aim to enhance China’s geomorphologicl research capacity were proposed. They are: (1) strengthening the research of basic geomorphologic theory and the research of integrated geomorphology to expand the research space; (2) focusing more on the research of geomorphologic structure and geomorphologic function to improve the application ability of geomorphology; (3) constructing a comprehensive resource, environmental, and geomorphologic information system and building a sharing platform to upgrade the intelligent information industry of geomorphology; (4) putting more efforts on the research of coastal geomorphology and marine geomorphology to assist the transformation of China from a maritime country to an ocean power; and (5) cultivating talents and constructing research teams to maintain a sustainable development of China’s geomorphologic research.
There is a wide diversity of landforms in China. The topography of three major terraces, decreasing in height stepwise from west to east, was formed by the early Miocene. With the commencement of the Great Northern Hemisphere Glaciations (GHGs) and the glacial-interglacial cycles in the Pleistocene, thick loess deposits accumulated in north China, and fluvial terraces were formed and lakes expanded and contracted in eastern and central China. The earliest evidence of hominins in China is dated to ~1.7 Ma; they occupied the monsoon-dominated region for a long interval, until the late Pleistocene, ~50 ka. In this study, we investigated a large area rich in the relics and artifacts of early man. The results indicate that the early humans occupied riverine areas, especially medium-sized fluvial basins, and lake shores. Even in the relatively recent geological past, the occupation and abandonment of settlements were directly forced by the shifting of sand dune fields in the desert-loess transitional zone, which in turn was closely associated with variations in the monsoon climate and vegetation patterns. Our observations indicate that landforms were one of the main determinants of early human behavior, in that loess tableland, large alluvial plains, desert-Gobi areas, and the Tibetan Plateau, were not suitable environments for early human settlement. We infer that the early humans in China adapted their behavior to specific landforms and landform processes. The monsoon climate, which shapes the large-scale step-like pattern of fluvial landforms, promotes vegetation coverage and dominates soil formation, provides a crucial context for early human adaptation. The adaptation of early humans to earth surface processes in East Asia is investigated for the first time in this study. Future investigations will provide further information that will increase our understanding of the linkage between early human behavior and landform processes in East Asia.
The geomorphological evolution of the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau (NETP) could provide valuable information for reconstructing the tectonic movements of the region. And the considerable uplift and climatic changes at here, provide an opportunity for studying the impact of tectonic and monsoon climate on fluvial morphological development and sedimentary architecture of fluvial deposits. The development of peneplain-like surface and related landscape transition from basin filling to incision indicate an intense uplift event with morphological significance at around 10-17 Ma in the NETP. After that, incision into the peneplain was not continuous but a staircase of terraces, developed as a result of climatic influences. In spite of the generally persisting uplift of the whole region, the neighbouring tectonic blocks had different uplift rates, leading to a complicated fluvial response with accumulation terraces alternating with erosion terraces at a small spatial and temporal scale. The change in fluvial activity as a response to climatic impact is reflected in the general sedimentary sequence on the terraces from high-energy (braided) channel deposits (at full glacial) to lower-energy deposits of small channels (towards the end of the glacial), mostly separated by a rather sharp boundary from overlying flood-loams (at the glacial-interglacial transition) and overall soil formation (interglacial). Pronounced incision took place at the subsequent warm-cold transitions. In addition, it is hypothesized that in some strongly uplifted blocks energy thresholds could be crossed to allow terrace formation as a response to small climatic fluctuations (103-104 year timescale). Although studies of morpho-tectonic and geomorphological evolution of the NETP, improve understanding on the impacts of tectonic motions and monsoonal climate on fluvial processes, a number of aspects, such as the distribution and correlation of peneplain and the related morphological features, the extent and intensity of tectonic movements influencing the crossing of climatic thresholds, leading to terrace development, need to be studied further.
Developing approaches to automate the analysis of the massive amounts of data sent back from the Moon will generate significant benefits for the field of lunar geomorphology. In this paper, we outline an automated method for mapping lunar landforms that is based on digital terrain analysis. An iterative self-organizing (ISO) cluster unsupervised classification enables the automatic mapping of landforms via a series of input raster bands that utilize six geomorphometric parameters. These parameters divide landforms into a number of spatially extended, topographically homogeneous segments that exhibit similar terrain attributes and neighborhood properties. To illustrate the applicability of our approach, we apply it to three representative test sites on the Moon, automatically presenting our results as a thematic landform map. We also quantitatively evaluated this approach using a series of confusion matrices, achieving overall accuracies as high as 83.34% and Kappa coefficients (K) as high as 0.77. An immediate version of our algorithm can also be applied for automatically mapping large-scale lunar landforms and for the quantitative comparison of lunar surface morphologies.
Paleo-dune deposits have been widely used as a proxy indicator of past dune activity, which is further used to reconstruct paleoclimates. However, recent studies have critically examined the reproducibility of dune chronologies and the complexity of paleo-dune deposits as paleoenvironmental records. This paper addresses questions on the paleoenvironmental implications of dune chronostratigraphies that have been raised by those reviews, in the specific case of crescentic dunes, using a case study from the Mu Us dune field, north-central China. The processes of turn-over and stabilization of relatively small crescentic dunes are first investigated by observational evidence. In combination with the analysis of a simplified sand preservation model and stratigraphic records, the effect of dune morphodynamics on sand preservation is demonstrated. It is especially evident that thick, nearly instantaneously deposited sand units record dune stabilization near the very end of a dune activity episode, while thin sand units may signal the preservation of sand deposited earlier in episodes of activity. Interpreting the distribution of luminescence ages that indicate sand deposition over time is not as simple as assumed in some previous work. Low frequency of sand ages could indicate an interval of either dune field stabilization or extensive dune activity but poor sand preservation. A peak of sand age frequency likely represents a shift in dune field activity towards stabilization, not a peak of active dune extent, especially if it partially overlaps with an independently identified interval of stabilization (e.g. one recorded by paleosols). The nature and magnitude of these biases in the distribution of sand ages over time are strongly affected by the magnitude of net sand accumulation, which is in turn related to sand supply, transport capacity and sand availability, and ultimately climate change. Relatively short dune stabilization and turn-over time (101 to 102 yrs) indicate that dune geomorphic processes can quickly respond to short-term disturbance, but the chronology of that response must be interpreted in light of how those processes influence age distributions.
Both interchannel wetlands and multi-channels are crucial geomorphologic units in an anastomosing river system. Planform characteristics and development of interchannel wetlands and multi-channels control the characteristics of anastomosing rivers. To understand the role that interchannel wetlands play in the development of anastomosing rivers, a study was conducted on the Maqu Reach of the Upper Yellow River (MRUYR), a gravel-bed anastomosing river characterized by highly developed interchannel wetlands and anabranches. Geomorphologic units in the studied reach were extracted from high resolution satellite imagery in Google Earth. The size distributions of interchannel wetlands and interchannel wetland clusters (IWCs), a special combination of interchannel wetlands and anabranches, were investigated. Geomorphologic parameters, including the ratio of interchannel wetland area to IWC area (P), shoreline density (Dl), and node density (Dn) were used to analyze planform characteristics of IWCs and the development of multi-channels in the studied reach. The results suggest that small or middle sized interchannel wetlands and large or mega sized IWCs are more common at the study site. The area of IWC (Su) is highly correlated with other geomorphologic parameters. P increases with increasing Su, and the upper limit is about 80%, which indicates that the development of interchannel wetlands and anabranches in the IWC is in the equilibrium stage. In contrast, Dl and Dn show a tendency to decrease with increasing Su due to diverse evolution processes in IWCs with different sizes. There are three main reasons leading to the formation of IWCs: varying stream power due to the meandering principal channel; development of the river corridor due to the weakening of geologic structure control; and high stability of interchannel wetlands due to conservation by shoreline vegetation.
There are a series of basins in the Fenwei Graben. Field survey found that there took place several paleolake regressions or intensive stream down-incisions in all basins during the Mid-Late Quaternary. The lowest and oldest paleosol/loess units overlying three of the lacustrine terraces or alluvial ones and some paleomagenetism data from the lacustrine sediment indicate that the onset times of three paleolake regressions or intensive stream down-incisions are synchronous with the formation of L9, L6 and L2 respectively in the Weihe Basin, S8, S5 and S1 respectively in the Linfen-Taiyuan-Xingding Basins, and L8, L5 and L1 respectively in the Datong Basin. The difference in the onset time of each lake regressions or intensive stream down-incision in different basins reveals that the farther the basin is from the Tibetan Plateau, the later it took place. Taking these field facts and the former research results in terms of the regional tectonic movement into account, it is inferred that the tectonic movement of the Tibetan Plateau most probably controlled such geomorphological- sedimentary evolution in the graben.
The influence of monsoon climatic characteristics makes the tropics of China different from those of other parts of the world. Therefore, the location of the northern boundary of China’s tropical zone has been one of the most controversial issues in the study of comprehensive physical regionalisation in China. This paper introduces developments in the study of the northern boundary of China’s tropical zone, in which different scholars delimit the boundary with great differences based on different regionalisation objectives, indexes, and methods. The main divergence of opinion is found in different understandings of zonal vegetation, agricultural vegetation type, cropping systems, tropical soil type and tropical characteristics. In this study, we applied the GeoDetector model, which measures the spatial stratified heterogeneity, to validate the northern boundaries of the tropical zone delimited by six principal scholars. The results show that the mean q-statistic value of the higher latitude boundary delimited by Ren Mei’e is the largest (q=0.37), suggesting that, of the rival views, it best reflects the regional differences between China’s tropical and subtropical zones, but it is not necessarily suitable for guiding the development of tropical agriculture. The mean values of the q-statistics of Zheng Du’s line and Yu Xianfang’s line around the Leizhou Peninsula at a lower latitude were smaller, at 0.10 and 0.08 respectively, indicating that the regional differences were smaller than those of Ren Mei’e’s boundary. Against the background of global climate change, the climate itself is changing in fluctuation. It is, thus, worth our further research whether the northern boundary of the tropical zone should not be a fixed line but rather should fluctuate within a certain scope to reflect these changes.
Coal is a basic resource and its use guarantees the development of national economies and human society. Thus, coal transportation is an important part of China’s overall transportation system. In this system, ports are the vital transit nodes. This study considered coastal ports in China and analysed the evolution of coal transportation from 1973 to 2013. We focused on the spatial pattern of coal loading and unloading, and summarized the main characteristics and development of the processes. Then, we examined the volumes of coal transported and regional changes in these amounts using mathematical models and indicators. Finally, we analysed the specialized function and spatial differentiation of the ports involved in coal transportation to reveal their spatial relationship and temporal evolution. We found that the spatial pattern of coal transportation changed from “south input and north output” to “all input and north output”. However, the prominent ports used for coal unloading are still concentrated in areas south of the Yangtze River. Coal loading is concentrated on the west bank of Bohai Bay. In addition, some ports around Bohai Bay, such as Dandong, Dalian, Yantai, and Qingdao, changed from traditional coal loading ports to unloading ports. This study further developed the theory of transport geography, and improved our understanding of China’s coal transportation system.
As a daily necessity and an important cash crop in China and many other countries, tea has received increasing attention. Using production concentration index model and industry’ s barycenter theory, we analyzed the spatio-temporal distribution of tea production and barycenter movement trajectory of tea plantations and production in China between 1986 and 2015. Driving forces of the movement were also analyzed. From 1986 to 2000, tea production in China’s Mainland of grew slowly (by 210×103 t). The continuous increase in tea yield per unit area was the primary contributor (more than 60%) to the growth in tea production during this period. Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, tea production has grown rapidly, by 1.59×106 t between 2001 and 2015. The increase in the tea plantations area is the main contributor. Over the last 30 years, the barycenters of tea production in China have moved westward from the Dongting Lake Plain to the eastern fringe of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. Guizhou, Guangxi, and Sichuan in southwestern China have gradually become regions of new concentrated tea plantations and main tea production provinces. Lower cost of land and labor in southwestern China are the main drivers of the westward movement of China’s tea industry. In addition, supportive policies and the favorable natural geographical environment contribute to the westward movement of tea industry. Our research highlights the spatio-temporal variation of China’s tea production in the last three decades. The result indicates importance to make appropriate policies to promote the development of tea industry in China.
With the socio-economic development associated with urbanization, the urban-rural relationship has changed across the world. In China, due to the urban-rural dual structure, these changes turn out to be more complicated. Spatial restructuring are suggested as the main strategies and spatial supporting platforms for urban-rural development. However, the theory still lacks solid methodology and support from systematic empirical studies. This study seeks an adequate scientific methodology and discusses the difference of urban-rural transformation in plains and mountainous areas. A case in Shanghang County, China, demonstrates: 1) The compound ecological niche model can be a suitable approach in urban-rural restructuring, especially in mountainous areas. 2) The urban-rural development area with highly inappropriate, slightly appropriate, moderately appropriate, and highly appropriate areas are 1273.2 km2 (44.69%); 906.1 km2 (31.80%); 509.4 km2 (17.88%); and 160.1 km2 (5.62%), respectively. 3) The “deserting villages” in mountainous areas play positive synergistic roles in urbanization, in contrast to the “hollowing villages” common in plain areas. 4) The central town-village will become the most important settlement in mountainous areas. Therefore, we suggest more attention should be paid to environmental capacity in the construction of central town-villages. This study significantly extends the understanding of “hollowing village” theory and regional planning.
Coastal zones play a major role in the conservation of marine ecosystems and the sustainable use of resources not only because of their special geographical environment but also because of their high temporal and spatial variability. With the development of urbanization, the exploitation and utilization of coasts have become important issues in the debate. To evaluate variations in the intensity of the land resource exploitation of coastal zones, an index-based model has been proposed in this paper, and coastal Vietnam has been established as the study area. The model is based on four normalized indexes to realize rapid evaluation of the spatial distribution of the exploitative intensity after zoning. The model was established to characterize the different exploitative intensities in different segments of the coast and to graphically present a sequence of decision choices for decision-makers. The results are as follows. (1) The simplicity and rapidity of the index operations can address the fast-changing characteristics of coastal exploitation and meet the desired precision. (2) The choices of the landward buffers fit well with the banded characteristics of the coastal zone. The buffers are horizontally divided into equidistant subregions, which can quantify the spatial differentiation of the exploitative intensity along the coast and perpendicular to the coast. (3) The average exploitative intensity is low, and the proportion of area that is to be exploited accounts for approximately 50%.Considering its spatial variation from north to south, the land exploitative intensity in the north is higher than that in the south. Compared to the intensity of land resource exploitation in the 20 km and 10 km buffers, the land exploitative intensity in the 5 km buffer is higher. The state of the intensity of land resource exploitation and how it can be used by stakeholders to manage coastal resources are then discussed.
There is a lack of simple ways to predict the vegetation responses to the East Asian Monsoon (EAM) variability in China due to the complexity of the monsoon system. In this study, we found the variation of the Western Pacific Subtropical High (WPSH), which is one of the major components of the EAM, has a profound influence on the vegetation growth in China. When the WPSH is located more to the west of its climate average, the eastern and northwestern parts experience increased yearly-averaged normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and gross primary productivity (GPP) by 0.3%-2.2%, and 0.2%-2.2%, respectively. In contrast, when the WPSH is located more to the east of its climate average, the above areas experience decreased yearly-averaged NDVI and GPP by 0.4% to 1.6%, and 1.3% to 4.5%, respectively. The WPSH serves as a major circulation index to predict the response of vegetation to monsoon.
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.
Coupled hydrological and atmospheric modeling is an efficient method for snowmelt runoff forecast in large basins. We use short-range precipitation forecasts of mesoscale atmospheric Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model combining them with ground-based and satellite observations for modeling snow accumulation and snowmelt processes in the Votkinsk reservoir basin (184,319 km2). The method is tested during three winter seasons (2012-2015). The MODIS-based vegetation map and leaf area index data are used to calculate the snowmelt intensity and snow evaporation in the studied basin. The GIS-based snow accumulation and snowmelt modeling provides a reliable and highly detailed spatial distribution for snow water equivalent (SWE) and snow-covered areas (SCA). The modelling results are validated by comparing actual and estimated SWE and SCA data. The actual SCA results are derived from MODIS satellite data. The algorithm for assessing the SCA by MODIS data (ATBD-MOD 10) has been adapted to a forest zone. In general, the proposed method provides satisfactory results for maximum SWE calculations. The calculation accuracy is slightly degraded during snowmelt periods. The SCA data is simulated with a higher reliability than the SWE data. The differences between the simulated and actual SWE may be explained by the overestimation of the WRF-simulated total precipitation and the unrepresentativeness of the SWE measurements (snow survey).
Taking the semi-arid area of Yulin City as an example, this study improves the vulnerability assessment methods and techniques at the county scale using the VSD (Vulnerability Scoping Diagram) assessment framework, integrates the VSD framework and the SERV (Spatially Explicit Resilience-Vulnerability) model, and decomposes the system vulnerability into three dimensions, i.e., exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Firstly, with the full understanding of the background and exposure risk source of the research area, the vulnerability indexes were screened by the SERV model, and the index system was constructed to assess the characteristics of the local eco-environment. Secondly, with the aid of RS and GIS, this study measured the spatial differentiation and evolution of the social-ecological systems in Yulin City during 2000-2015 and explored intrinsic reasons for the spatial-temporal evolution of vulnerability. The results are as follows: (1) The spatial pattern of Yulin City’s SESs vulnerability is “high in northwest and southeast and low along the Great Wall”. Although the degree of system vulnerability decreased significantly during the study period and the system development trend improved, there is a sharp spatial difference between the system vulnerability and exposure risk. (2) The evolution of system vulnerability is influenced by the risk factors of exposure, and the regional vulnerability and the spatial heterogeneity of exposure risk are affected by the social sensitivity, economic adaptive capacity and other factors. Finally, according to the uncertainty of decision makers, the future scenarios of regional vulnerability are simulated under different decision risks by taking advantage of the OWA multi-criteria algorithm, and the vulnerability of the regional system under different development directions was predicted based on the decision makers' rational risk interval.
Mega-urban agglomerations are strategic core areas for national economic development and the main regions of new urbanization. They also have important roles in shifting the global economic center of gravity to China. However, the development of mega-urban agglomerations has triggered the interactive coercion between resources and the eco-environment. The interactive coupled effects between urbanization and the eco-environment in mega-urban agglomerations represent frontier and high-priority research topics in the field of Earth system science over the next decade. In this paper, we carried out systematic theoretical analysis of the interactive coupling mechanisms and coercing effects between urbanization and the eco-environment in mega-urban agglomerations. In detail, we analyzed the nonlinear-coupled relationships and the coupling characteristics between natural and human elements in mega-urban agglomerations. We also investigated the interactive coercion intensities between internal and external elements, and the mechanisms and patterns of local couplings and telecouplings in mega-urban agglomeration systems, which are affected by key internal and external control elements. In addition, we proposed the interactive coupling theory on urbanization and the eco-environment in mega-urban agglomerations. Furthermore, we established a spatiotemporal dynamic coupling model with multi-element, multi-scale, multi-scenario, multi-module and multi-agent integrations, which can be used to develop an intelligent decision support system for sustainable development of mega-urban agglomerations. In general, our research may provide theoretical guidance and method support to solve problems related to mega-urban agglomerations and maintain their sustainable development.
Based on the collation and statistical analysis of flood and drought information in Baoji area from 1368 to 1911, and in the context of climate change, we investigated the spatio-temporal evolution characteristics of drought and flood disaster chains in this area during the Ming and Qing dynasties using the methods of moving average, cumulative anomaly and wavelet analysis. The results are as follows: (1) We found a total of 297 drought and flood events from 1368 to 1911 in Baoji. Among these events, droughts and floods occurred separately 191 and 106 times, which accounted for 64.31% and 35.69% of the total events, respectively. (2) We observed distinct characteristics of flood and drought events in Baoji in different phases. The climate was relatively dry from 1368 to 1644. A fluctuant climate phase with both floods and droughts occurred from 1645 to 1804. The climate was relatively wet from 1805 to 1911. Moreover, we observed a pattern of alternating dry and wet periods from 1368 to 1911. In addition, 3 oscillation periods of drought and flood events occurred around 70 a, 110 a and 170 a, which corresponded to sunspot cycles. (3) We also observed an obvious spatial difference in drought and flood events in Baoji. The northern and eastern parts of Weihe River basin were regions with both frequent droughts and floods. (4) The sequential appearance of drought and flood disaster chains in Baoji from 1368 to 1911 was in response to global climate change. Since the 1760s, global climatic deterioration has frequently led to extreme drought and flood events.
Desertification control is a crucial way to enhancing the ecological conditions of arid and semi-arid regions, and maintaining sustainable development globally. Designing and improving an ecological compensation mechanism for desertification control has great significance related to achieving balance amongst the needs of different economic subjects and the assurance of a sustained and stable supply of desert ecosystem services. In this paper, (1) the theoretical bases of ecological compensation for desertification control were re-analyzed; (2) the research status and challenges of three important topics related to ecological compensation for desertification control were systemically discussed, including compensation standards, ecosystem service supply-consumption process and multi-scale effects, and resource-environment basis and policy orientation; (3) a research framework of ecological compensation for desertification control based on the process of desert ecosystem service supply-flow-consumption was proposed; (4) and finally, seven priority research issues were discussed, which aimed to support ecological compensation policy-making and ecological engineering implementation for desertification control.
Glaciers are the most important fresh-water resources in arid and semi-arid regions of western China. According to the Second Chinese Glacier Inventory (SCGI), primarily compiled from Landsat TM/ETM+ images, the Qilian Mountains had 2684 glaciers covering an area of 1597.81±70.30 km2 and an ice volume of ~84.48 km3 from 2005 to 2010. While most glaciers are small (85.66% are <1.0 km2), some larger ones (12.74% in the range 1.0-5.0 km2) cover 42.44% of the total glacier area. The Laohugou Glacier No.12 (20.42 km2) located on the north slope of the Daxue Range is the only glacier >20 km2 in the Qilian Mountains. Median glacier elevation was 4972.7 m and gradually increased from east to west. Glaciers in the Qilian Mountains are distributed in Gansu and Qinghai provinces, which have 1492 glaciers (760.96 km2) and 1192 glaciers (836.85 km2), respectively. The Shule River basin contains the most glaciers in both area and volume. However, the Heihe River, the second largest inland river in China, has the minimum average glacier area. A comparison of glaciers from the SCGI and revised glacier inventory based on topographic maps and aerial photos taken from 1956 to 1983 indicate that all glaciers have receded, which is consistent with other mountain and plateau areas in western China. In the past half-century, the area and volume of glaciers decreased by 420.81 km2 (-20.88%) and 21.63 km3 (-20.26%), respectively. Glaciers with areas <1.0 km2 decreased the most in number and area recession. Due to glacier shrinkage, glaciers below 4000 m completely disappeared. Glacier changes in the Qilian Mountains presented a clear longitudinal zonality, i.e., the glaciers rapidly shrank in the east but slowly in the central-west. The primary cause of glacier recession was warming temperatures, which was slightly mitigated with increased precipitation.
Analysis of casualties due to landslides from 2000 to 2012 revealed that their spatial pattern was affected by terrain and other natural environmental factors, which resulted in a higher distribution of landslide casualty events in southern China than in northern China. Hotspots of landslide-generated casualties were in the western Sichuan mountainous area and Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau region, southeast hilly area, northern part of the loess hilly area, and Tianshan and Qilian Mountains. However, local distribution patterns indicated that landslide casualty events were also influenced by economic activity factors. To quantitatively analyse the influence of natural environment and human-economic activity factors, the Probability Model for Landslide Casualty Events in China (LCEC) was built based on logistic regression analysis. The results showed that relative relief, GDP growth rate, mean annual precipitation, fault zones, and population density were positively correlated with casualties caused by landslides. Notably, GDP growth rate ranked only second to relative relief as the primary factors in the probability of casualties due to landslides. The occurrence probability of a landslide casualty event increased 2.706 times with a GDP growth rate increase of 2.72%. In contrast, vegetation coverage was negatively correlated with casualties caused by landslides. The LCEC model was then applied to calculate the occurrence probability of landslide casualty events for each county in China. The results showed that there are 27 counties with high occurrence probability but zero casualty events. The 27 counties were divided into three categories: poverty-stricken counties, mineral-rich counties, and real-estate overexploited counties; these are key areas that should be emphasized in reducing landslide risk.
This review summarizes the effects of vegetation on runoff and soil loss in three dimensions: vertical vegetation structures (aboveground vegetation cover, surface litter layer and underground roots), plant diversity, vegetation patterns and their scale characteristics. Quantitative relationships between vegetation factors with runoff and soil loss are described. A framework for describing relationships involving vegetation, erosion and scale is proposed. The relative importance of each vegetation dimension for various erosion processes changes across scales. With the development of erosion features (i.e., splash, interrill, rill and gully), the main factor of vertical vegetation structures in controlling runoff and soil loss changes from aboveground biomass to roots. Plant diversity levels are correlated with vertical vegetation structures and play a key role at small scales, while vegetation patterns also maintain a critical function across scales (i.e., patch, slope, catchment and basin/region). Several topics for future study are proposed in this review, such as to determine efficient vegetation architectures for ecological restoration, to consider the dynamics of vegetation patterns, and to identify the interactions involving the three dimensions of vegetation.
Glacial lakes are not only the important refresh water resources in alpine region, but also act as a trigger of many glacial hazards such as glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) and debris flow. Therefore, glacial lakes play an important role on the cryosphere, climate change and alpine hazards. In this paper, the issues of glacial lake were systematically discussed, then from the view of glacial lake inventory and glacial lake hazards study, the glacial lake was defined as natural water mainly supplied by modern glacial meltwater or formed in glacier moraine’s depression. Furthermore, a complete classification system of glacial lake was proposed based on its formation mechanism, topographic feature and geographical position. Glacial lakes were classified as 6 classes and 8 subclasses, i.e., glacial erosion lake (including cirque lake, glacial valley lake and other glacial erosion lake), moraine-dammed lake (including end moraine-dammed lake, lateral moraine-dammed lake and moraine thaw lake), ice-blocked lake (including advancing glacier-blocked lake and other glacier-blocked lake), supraglacial lake, subglacial lake and other glacial lake. Meanwhile, some corresponding features exhibiting on remote sensing image and quantitative indices for identifying different glacial lake types were proposed in order to build a universal and operational classification system of glacial lake.
Soil humic carbon is an important component of soil organic carbon (SOC) in terrestrial ecosystems. However, no study to date has investigated its geographical patterns and the main factors that influence it at a large scale, despite the fact that it is critical for exploring the influence of climate change on soil C storage and turnover. We measured levels of SOC, humic acid carbon (HAC), fulvic acid carbon (FAC), humin carbon (HUC), and extractable humus carbon (HEC) in the 0-10 cm soil layer in nine typical forests along the 3800-km North-South Transect of Eastern China (NSTEC) to elucidate the latitudinal patterns of soil humic carbon fractions and their main influencing factors. SOC, HAC, FAC, HUC, and HEC increased with increasing latitude (all P<0.001), and exhibited a general trend of tropical < subtropical < temperate. The ratios of humic C fractions to SOC were 9.48%-12.27% (HAC), 20.68%-29.31% (FAC), and 59.37%-61.38% (HUC). Climate, soil texture, and soil microbes jointly explained more than 90% of the latitudinal variation in SOC, HAC, FAC, HEC, and HUC, and interactive effects were important. These findings elucidate latitudinal patterns of soil humic C fractions in forests at a large scale, and may improve models of soil C turnover and storage.
Associated with the rapid economic development of China, the level of urbanization is becoming a serious concern. Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang Province, China and one of the political, economic, cultural, and transportation centers of the northeastern region of China, has experienced rapid urbanization recently. To examine the spatial patterns of long-term urbanization and explore its driving forces, we employed the impervious surface fraction derived from remote sensing image as a primary indicator. Specifically, urban impervious surface information for the central city of Harbin in 1984, 1993, 2002, and 2010 was extracted from Landsat Thematic Mapper image using a Linear Spectral Mixture Analysis (LMSA). Then, the spatial and temporal variation characteristics and the driving factors of percent impervious surface area (ISA) changes were analyzed throughout this 26-year period (1984 to 2010). Analysis of results suggests that: (1) ISAs in the central city of Harbin constantly increased, particularly from 1993 to 2010, a rapid urbanization period; (2) the gravity center of impervious surface area in the central city was located in Nangang District in 1984, moving southeast from 1984 to 1993, northwest from 1993 to 2002, and continuing toward the southeast from 2002 to 2010; and (3) the urban growth of the central city can be characterized as edge-type growth.
China’s investments, financial incentives and deductions in terms of ecological conservation are based at the county level. Therefore, the monitoring and assessment of the effects of ecological conservation at the county level is important to provide a scientific basis for the assessment of the ecological and environmental quality at the county scale. This paper quantitatively estimated the dynamics of high-quality ecosystems and vegetation coverage over the past 15 years, and their relationships with the number of ecological conservation programs at the county level were analyzed. Then, the effects of ecological conservation measures on ecological changes at the county level and their regional suitability were assessed and discussed. The results showed that counties with a percentage of high-quality ecosystems greater than 50% were primarily distributed in northeastern China, southern subtropical China and the southeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and those with a percentage lower than 20% were mostly distributed in northwestern China, the southwestern karst region and the North China Plain. In recent decades, ecological conservation has focused on ecologically fragile regions; more than five ecological conservation programs have been implemented in most counties of the Three River Source Region in Qinghai Province, southeastern Tibet, western Sichuan, the Qilian Mountains, southern Xinjiang and other western regions, while only one or zero have been implemented in the eastern coastal area of China. Over the past 15 years, the proportional area of high-quality ecosystems has increased in approximately 53% of counties. The vegetation coverage of counties in the Loess Plateau, Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (Jing-Jin-Ji), Sichuan-Guizhou-Chongqing, and Guangdong-Guangxi provincial-level areas has increased significantly. However, it decreased in northern Xinjiang, central Tibet, central and eastern Inner Mongolia, the Yangtze River Delta and other regions. The relationships between the numbers of ecological conservation programs and the indicators of ecosystem restoration response, such as high-quality ecosystem and vegetation coverage, do not show positive correlations. These results suggest that ecological conservation programs should be planned and implemented according to the distribution patterns of high-quality ecosystems and that restoration measures such as afforestation should follow natural principles and regional differentiation under the background of climate change.
As the improvement of international status and the implementation of China’s neighboring diplomacy, the development of border regions and the security of border cities, as well as their spatial structure and regional differences are gaining more attention from academic circle. Based on the interdisciplinary perspectives of urban geography, regional economics and geopolitics, this paper explores the regional differences of border geo-cities in China and the surrounding countries with the help of remote sensing information acquisition and ArcGIS spatial analysis. Three primary results are found as follows: (1) The border geo-cities in China and surrounding countries are divided into five geographical regions: geo-cities in South China Sea, geo-cities in Southeast Asia, geo-cities in South Asia, geo-cities in Central Asia and geo-cities in Northeast Asia. (2) In the spatial structure system of China’s border geo-cities, the importance of geo-cities in five major regions is fairly different. In terms of the security and economic development, the rank of priority is geo-cities in Northeast Asia, geo-cities in South China Sea, geo-cities in Central Asia, geo-cities in South Asia, geo-cities in Southeast Asia. (3) Considering China’s geo-setting for the development of border geo-cities, the east region is significantly better than the west, and the north region is slightly better than the south.
Ecohydrology, aiming to study the interactions between terrestrial ecological systems and hydrological cycles as well as their impacts on water management, has been an emerging interdisciplinary research field since the 20th century. It hosts both natural and human regulated processes that are potentially coupled in complex ways. Understanding the ecological-hydrological processes, the fundamental mechanisms and the connections between them is critical since these processes are not isolated but integrated to impact basin-scale hydrological and biogeochemical functioning of a larger river system, especially in arid environment where water resources are considered to be the source of life. Thus, research on ecological-hydrological processes in arid environment is not only a scientific focus area but also important to sustainable development. Research projects and initiatives involved in observation, measurement, modeling and data assimilation have been well-developed for those purposes over the past 20 years. This review summarizes the historical development of ecohydrology science in China and the state-of-the-art tools available in the research framework. Five grand scientific challenges are listed as prospects and exciting opportunities for the scientific community. To advance the current ecological-hydrological processes research, scientists from multidisciplinary backgrounds (such as geography, geology, geomorphology, hydrology, geochemistry and ecology), need to unite to tackle the many open problems in new dimensions.