Research Articles

Spatial and temporal variations of coastlines in northern China (2000-2012)

  • Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
Xu Jinyong(1982-), PhD and Assistant Researcher, specialized in studies of land use changes and their impact on the ecological environment.

Received date: 2013-05-18

  Revised date: 2013-06-20

  Online published: 2014-02-15

Supported by

National Project 973, No.2010CB95090102


This study examined the spatial distribution of the continent coastline in northern China using remote sensing and GIS techniques, and calculated the fractal dimension of the coastline by box-counting method, with a time span from 2000 to 2012. Moreover, we analyzed the characteristics of spatial-temporal changes in the coastline's length and fractal dimension, the relationship between the length change and fractal dimension change, and the driving forces of coastline changes in northern China. During the research period, the coastline of the study area increased by 637.95 km, at a rate of 53.16 km per year. On the regional level, the most significant change in coastline length was observed in Tianjin and Hebei. Temporally, the northern China coastline grew faster after 2008. The most dramatic growth was found between 2010 and 2011, with an increasing rate of 2.49% per year. The fractal dimension of the coastline in northern China was increasing during the research period, and the most dramatic increase occurred in Bohai Rim. There is a strong-positive linear relationship between the historical coastline length and fractal dimension (the correlation coefficient was 0.9962). Through statistical analysis of a large number of local coastline changes, it can be found that the increase (or decrease) of local coastline length will, in most cases, lead to the increase (or decrease) of the whole coastline fractal dimension. Civil-coastal engineering construction was the most important factor driving the coastline change in northern China. Port construction, fisheries facilities and salt factories were the top three construction activities. Compared to human activities, the influence of natural processes such as estuarine deposit and erosion were relatively small.

Cite this article

XU Jinyong, ZHANG Zengxiang, ZHAO Xiaoli, WEN Qingke, ZUO Lijun, WANG Xiao, YI Ling . Spatial and temporal variations of coastlines in northern China (2000-2012)[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2014 , 24(1) : 18 -32 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-014-1070-x


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