PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2010, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (11): 1385-1390.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2010.11.028

• Original Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A Quantitative Research on the Resilience of Social-ecological System to Drought in the Semiarid Area

WANG Jun1,2, YANG Xinjun1, LIU Wenzhao2   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environment, Northwest University, Xi'an 710127, China;
    2. Institute of Soil andWater Conservation, CAS-MWR, Yangling 712100, China
  • Received:2010-01-01 Revised:2010-07-01 Online:2010-11-25 Published:2010-11-25


Drought has been a crucial meteorological factor which limits the agricultural development and eco-environment construction in the northwest area of China. In the past decades, many Chinese scientists tend to explore the cause of drought from the perspective of biophysical aspects, while the accumulated body empirical evidence identifies that social system has enormous impacts on disarsters (drought) as well. Nature and mankinds are tightly linked, and they are coupled systems which can be termed as social-ecological systems. What can we do to gain a deep understanding about the interacting processes and the mechanisms bewteen nature and society, and then build a scientific foundation for drought defying decision-making? Resilience, as a new theory, provides an idea to solve this problem. Resilience refers to the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing changes, so as to retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks. Since resilience is a buffer in the social-ecological systems to the external perturbations and shocks, the management that builds resilience can sustain social-ecological systems when facing surprise, unpredictability, and complexity. Yet many studies mainly focus on description and qualitative analysis, which cannot offer practical instructions to solve specific problems, therefore, the attempt to quantify resilience of the systems, which can prevent social-ecological systems from sliding into some undesirable stable states, has become an imperative trend. Based on the statistic data and remote sensing images, the resilience of the social-ecological system to drought in Yuzhong County of Gansu Province during the last 15 years was calculated by integrating statistics approaches and GIS. The results indicate that the resilience of Yuzhong County depends on the interactions between internal factors (social, economic and natural) and external factors (aridity), and also highlight the need for local managers to be aware of how differently towns respond to drought, which is of great significance for managers to make robust managing strategies.

Key words: drought, resilience, social-ecological system, Yuzhong County