PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (3): 531-540.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.03.015

• Reviews • Previous Articles    

Research progress of land surface system classification: From land type to Earth’s critical zone type

LI Xiaoliang1(), WU Kening1,2,*(), FENG Zhe1, BAI Yuping1, LIU Yanan1, LI Xiao1   

  1. 1. School of Land Science and Technology, China University of Geosciences, Beijing 100083, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation, Ministry of Nature Resources, Beijing 100035, China
  • Received:2021-03-31 Revised:2021-06-15 Online:2022-03-28 Published:2022-05-28
  • Contact: WU Kening;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 42171261.(42171261)


The Earth surface system is a giant system with both complexity and openness formed by the interaction of the atmosphere, biosphere, anthroposphere, hydrosphere, pedosphere and lithosphere, and so on, which has spatial-temporal heterogeneity and hierarchy. Taxonomy is not only the fundamental way to recognize the formation and development of a system, but also an important way to clarify the structure, function, evolution, and spatial differentiation characteristics of a complex system. Classification of the land surface system can provide a scientific basis for multiscale geoscience research and natural resource management. The essence of land surface system classification is the division of the space and relationship between its constituent elements at a specific scale, so land use type, ground substrate, and critical zone type can all be considered as land surface system classification schemes. On this basis, we systematically reviewed the research progress of classification methods of the land surface system in China and internationally, and divided the methods into exploration, development, and mature developmental stages. Then, we compared the connotation of each classification system, and proposed that although each classification system belongs to different schools, they take the land surface system as the research object, and are a methodology to study the structure, function, and spatial differentiation of the land surface system. We compared the similarities and differences in the structure of the classification systems, and summarized the common features of these systems in terms of the level, scale, and elements. Finally, we proposed to build a land surface system classification framework from land parcel to country level, and discussed the prospect of hierarchical structure, classification system, and classification method integration.

Key words: land surface system taxonomy, land type, Earth's critical zone type, multiscale