Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2010, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (1): 64-76.doi: 10.1007/s11442-010-0064-6

• Geomorphology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Positive and negative terrains on northern Shaanxi Loess Plateau

ZHOU Yi1, TANG Guo'an1, YANG Xin1, XIAO Chenchao2, ZHANG Yuan3, LUO Mingliang4   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment of Ministry of Education, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, China;
    2. Institute of RS and GIS, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;
    3. School of Foreign Languages, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China;
    4. College of Land and Resources, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637002, Sichuan, China
  • Received:2009-04-12 Revised:2009-06-28 Online:2010-02-15 Published:2010-02-15
  • Contact: Tang Guo’an, Professor, E-mail:
  • Supported by:

    Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40930531; National Youth Science Foundation of China, No.40801148; Anhui Provincial Natural Science Foundation. No. 090412062


The Loess positive and negative terrains (P–N terrains), which are widely distributed on the Loess Plateau, are discussed for the first time by introducing its characteristic, demarcation as well as extraction method from high-resolution Digital Elevation Models. Using 5 m-resolution DEMs as original test data, P–N terrains of 48 geomorphological units in different parts of Shaanxi Loess Plateau are extracted accurately. Then six indicators for depicting the geomorphologic landscape and spatial configuration characteristic of P–N terrains are proposed. The spatial distribution rules of these indicators and the relationship between the P–N terrains and Loess relief are discussed for further understanding of Loess landforms. Finally, with the integration of P–N terrains and traditional terrain indices, a series of un-supervised classification methods are applied to make a proper landform classification in northern Shaanxi. Results show that P–N terrains are an effect clue to reveal energy and substance distribution rules on the Loess Plateau. A continuous change of P–N terrains from south to north in Shaanxi Loess Plateau shows an obvious spatial difference of Loess landforms and the positive terrain area only accounted for 60.5% in this region. The P–N terrains participant landform classification method increases validity of the result, especially in the Loess tableland, Loess tableland-ridge and the Loess low-hill area. This research is significant on the study of Loess landforms with the Digital Terrains Analysis methods.

Key words: Loess Plateau, positive and negative terrains, DEM, shoulder-lines, spatial differentiation