Applications of GIS

Landform classification using soil data and remote sensing in northern Ordos Plateau of China

  • 1. College of Conservancy and Civil Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot 010018, China;
    2. Hydraulics/Water Resources Laboratory, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk 23529, USA

Received date: 2011-11-27

  Revised date: 2012-03-02

  Online published: 2012-07-10

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.51139002; No.51069005; Inner Mongolia Agricultural University Innovation Team Building Program Cold-Arid Region Water Resources Utilization, No.NDTD2010-6; Inner Mongolia Scientific and Technology Bureau, No.20090516, Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, No.2010DFA71460


Landform classification is commonly done using topographic altitude only. However, practice indicates that locations at a same altitude may have distinctly different landforms, depending on characteristics of soils underneath those locations. The objectives of this study were to: 1) develop a landform classification approach that is based on both altitude and soil characteristic; and 2) use this approach to determine landforms within a watershed located in northern Ordos Plateau of China. Using data collected at 134 out of 200 sampling sites, this study determined that D10 (the diameter of soil particles 10% finer by weight) and long-term average soil moisture acquired in 2010, which can be estimated at reasonable accuracy from remote sensing imagery, can be used to represent soil characteristics of the study watershed. Also, the sampling data revealed that this watershed consists of nine classes of landforms, namely mobile dune (MD), mobile semi-mobile dune (SMD), rolling fixed semi-fixed dune (RFD), flat sandy land (FD), grassy sandy land (GS), bedrock (BR), flat sandy bedrock (FSB), valley agricultural land (VA), and swamp and salt lake (SW). A set of logistic regression equations were derived using data collected at the 134 sampling sites and verified using data at the remaining 66 sites. The verification indicated that these equations have moderate classification accuracy (Kappa coefficients K>43%). The results revealed that the dominant classes in the study watershed are FD (36.3%), BR (27.0%), and MD (23.5%), while the other six types of landforms (i.e., SMD, RFD, GS, FSB, VA, and SW) in combination account for 13.2%. Further, the landforms determined in this study were compared with the classes presented by a geologically-based classification map. The comparison indicated that the geologically-based classification could not identify multiple landforms within a class that are dependent upon soil characteristics.

Cite this article

LUO Yanyun, LIU Tingxi, WANG Xixi, DUAN Limin, ZHANG Shengwei, SHI Junxiao . Landform classification using soil data and remote sensing in northern Ordos Plateau of China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2012 , 22(4) : 681 -698 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-012-0956-8


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