Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2023, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (8): 1569-1586.doi: 10.1007/s11442-023-2143-5

• Special Issue: Human-environment interactions and Ecosystems •     Next Articles

Time-scale effects in human-nature interactions, regionally and globally

LI Yu(), GAO Mingjun, ZHANG Zhansen, ZHANG Yuxin, PENG Simin   

  1. Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Center for Hydrologic Cycle and Water Resources in Arid Region, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2022-09-30 Accepted:2023-03-24 Online:2023-08-25 Published:2023-08-29
  • About author:Li Yu (1981-), PhD and Professor, specialized in paleoclimatology. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA20100102);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42077415);The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (STEP)(2019QZKK0202);The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (STEP)(The 111 Project);The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (STEP)(BP0618001)


Spatial-temporal scales effects are general among human-nature interactions. However, the laws and mechanisms of the interaction between humans and the environment at different spatial-temporal scales remain to be identified. The Hexi Corridor in Northwest China is located in the eastern section of the Silk Road and is one of the world’s first long-distance cultural exchange centers. Here we present a comprehensive dataset of the Hexi Corridor, including changes in environments, population, wars, famines, settlements, and ancient oases from the Neolithic to the historic period. Results show that humans adapt to climate change on the millennium scale by choosing corresponding production methods. Environmental change, civilization evolution, and dynasty replacement interrelate on the decadal and centennial scales. Social crises are closely linked to extreme weather events on the interannual scale. On the basis of these results, we find similar time scale effects in the world’s major ancient civilizations. We do so by analyzing their processes of civilization evolution.

Key words: spatial-temporal scales, human-nature interactions, Hexi Corridor, ancient civilizations, regionally and globally