Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2023, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (7): 1419-1441.doi: 10.1007/s11442-023-2136-4

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Urban expansion and intra-urban land evolution as well as their natural environmental constraints in arid/semiarid regions of China from 2000-2018

PAN Tao1,2(), KUANG Wenhui2, SHAO Hua3,*(), ZHANG Chi3,4, WANG Xiaoyu1, WANG Xinqing1   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Tourism, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao 276826, Shandong, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
    4. Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Water and Soil Conservation and Environmental Protection, College of Resources and Environment, Linyi University, Linyi 276000, Shandong, China
  • Received:2022-05-28 Accepted:2023-03-24 Online:2023-07-25 Published:2023-07-24
  • Contact: *Shao Hua, Professor, specialized in urban geography and microbiology. E-mail:
  • About author:Pan Tao (1987-), Associate Professor, specialized in urban land use. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Natural Science Foundation Youth Program of Shandong Province(ZR2021QD134);Humanity and Social Science Youth Foundation of the Ministry of Education of China(21YJCZH111);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31770515)


Rapid urbanization has occurred in arid/semiarid China, threatening the sustainability of fragile dryland ecosystems; however, our knowledge of natural environmental constraints on multiscale urban lands in this region is still lacking. To solve this issue, this study retrieved 15-m multiscale urban lands. Results indicated that urban area increased by 68% during 2000-2018, and one-third of the increase was contributed by only three large cities. The coverage of impervious surface area (ISA) and vegetated area (VA) increased by 16.6% and 1.38%, respectively. Such land-cover change may be helpful in suppressing wind erosion and sand storms. We also found that the newly urban lands had relatively lower ISA and higher VA than the old urban lands, indicating an improved human settlement environment. Strong environmental constraints on urban expansion were identified, with cities in oasis urban environments (OUEs) that had water supply expanding 150% faster than cities in desert urban environments (DUEs). Urban development was also constrained by terrain, with 73% of the ISA expansion occurring in relatively flat areas. Overall, the aggregated pattern of urbanization and the increase in ISA and VA in the newly urbanized lands have improved water-use efficiency and ecological services and benefited desert ecosystem protection in arid/semiarid China.

Key words: urbanization, natural environmental constraints, pixel and subpixel land change, arid and semiarid regions of China