Climate and Environmental Change

Relief degree of land surface and its influence on population distribution in China

  • 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China|
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Received date: 2007-12-02

  Revised date: 2008-01-28

  Online published: 2008-06-25

Supported by

Knowledge Innovation Project of the CAS, No.KZCX2-YW-323


The relief degree of land surface (RDLS) is an important factor for describing the landform at macro-scales. This study defines a concept for RDLS and applies the concept for population distribution study of the entire country. Based on the concept and macro-scale digital elevation model datum and ARC/INFO software, the RDLS at a 10 km×10 km grid size of China is extracted. This paper depicts systemically the spatial distributions of RDLS through analyzing the ratio structure and altitudinal characters of RDLS in China. The con-clusions are drawn as follows: the RDLS in more than 63% of the area is less than one (1) (relative altitude is less than 500 m), reflecting the fact that most of RDLS in China is low. In general, the RDLS in the west is larger than that in the east and so is the south than that of the north in China. The RDLS decreases with the increase of longitude and latitude and the change of RDLS at the latitudes of 28°N, 35°N, 42°N, as well as at the longitudes of 85°E, 102°E, 115°E could reflect the three major ladders of China. In the vertical direction, the RDLS increases with the increase of altitude. Analysis of the correlation between RDLS and population distribution in China and its regional difference shows that the R2 value between RDLS and population density is 0.91 and RDLS is an important factor influencing the spatial distribution of population. More than 85% of the people in China live in areas where the RDLS is less than one (1), while the population in areas with RDLS greater than 3 accounts only for 0.57% of the total. The regional difference of correlation between RDLS and population within China is significant and such correlation is significant in Central China and South China and weak in Inner Mongolia and Tibet.

Cite this article

FENG Zhiming, TANG Yan, YANG Yanzhao, ZHANG Dan . Relief degree of land surface and its influence on population distribution in China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2008 , 18(2) : 237 -246 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-008-0237-8