Human-Environment Interactions

Differences between physical and human process simulation in geography: Empirical analysis of two cases

  • 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. Numerical Prediction Center of China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081, China
    4. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Tang Zhipeng (1978-), Ph.D and Assistant Professor, specialized in analysis and modeling of regional sustainable development. E-mail:

Received date: 2011-11-28

  Revised date: 2011-12-20

  Online published: 2012-05-04

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41125005; Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.KACX1-YW-1001


Physical geography and human geography are the principal branches of the geographical sciences. Physical process simulation and human process simulation in geography are both quantitative methods used to recover past events and even to forecast events based on precisely determined parameters. There are four differences between physical process simulation and human process simulation in geography, which we summarize with two specific cases, one of which is about a typhoon's development and its precipitation, and the other of which is regarding the evolution of three industrial structures in China. The differences focus on four aspects: the main factors of the research framework; the knowledge background of the systematic analysis framework; the simulation data sources and quantitative method; and the core of the study object and the method of forecast application. As the human- land relationship is the key ideology of the man-land system, the relationship between the physical and human factors is becoming increasingly close at present. Physical process simulation and human process simulation in geography will exhibit crossing and blending in the future to reflect the various geographical phenomena better.

Cite this article

TANG Zhipeng, ZHANG Jin, LIU Weidong, WU Hong . Differences between physical and human process simulation in geography: Empirical analysis of two cases[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2012 , 22(3) : 497 -508 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-012-0942-1


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