PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (4): 426-436.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2017.04.004

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Spatial distribution of land use change in the Yangtze River Basin and the impact on runoff

Su XU1(), Yongyong ZHANG2,*(), Ming DOU1, Ruixiang HUA2, Yujian ZHOU2   

  1. 1. School of Water Conservancy & Environment, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2016-06-01 Online:2017-04-20 Published:2017-04-20
  • Contact: Yongyong ZHANG;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41671024;“Bingwei” Excellent Talents in the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, No.2015RC201;Youth Innovation Promotion Association, CAS, No.2014041


The impact of land use change on runoff is one of the key concerns in water cycle research. The Yangtze River Basin is the largest river basin in China, and land use change and its impact on runoff are key research questions for runoff variation and flood and drought hazards analyses of the basin. This study used land use data of the Yangtze River Basin in 1980, 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005 to calculate the dynamic degree, swapping variable values, and other indexes between the four periods by land use transition matrix, evaluated spatial and temporal variation characteristics of land use, and identified key regions of change and driving factors in the basin. Based on the widely-used precipitation-runoff relationship of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) model, runoff impacts caused by land use change were assessed. The results show that from 1980 to 2005, land transfer activity was more intense in the first (1980-1990) and the fourth (2001-2005) periods compared to the two periods in between (1991-1995, 1996-2000). The middle and upper reaches around Sichuan Province and to its north were the most active regions. Paddy land, dry land, woodland, and grassland areas changed slightly, less than 8%. Influenced by different approaches of environmental protection and economic development in the four periods, cultivated lands (paddy land and dry land) showed inverse changes with grassland, and water body, unused land, and urban land changed to a much greater extent. In particular, due to rapid urbanization, urban land increased by 196.58%. Land use change directly resulted in the increase of average runoff coefficient, which ranged from -0.67%~0.80%, with the mean of 0.05%. The most obvious changes were in highly urbanized regions, particularly around the Yangtze River Delta region. Increase of runoff coefficient would raise the occurrence probability of flooding.

Key words: land use, transition matrix, swapping variables, runoff coefficient, Soil Conservation Service(SCS) model, Yangtze River Basin