PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (2): 207-.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2015.02.009

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Methods for reconstructing historical cropland spatial distribution of the Yellow River-Huangshui River valley in Tibetan Plateau

Jing LUO1(), Qiong CHEN1, Fenggui LIU1,2(), Yili ZHANG2, Qiang ZHOU1   

  1. 1. College of Life and Geographical Science, Qinghai Normal University, Xining 810008, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Online:2015-03-23 Published:2015-03-23


Land use/cover change (LUCC) caused by human activities is not only one of the main causes that change the earth's natural ecosystem, but also one of the important factors that affect regional and global climate change. Thus it has become one of the core areas of the global environment change research. In recent years, research on reconstructing historical cropland spatial distribution has made important progress. Tibetan Plateau is an area that is fragile and sensitive to global climate change, particularly its river valleys. Analyzing historical land use/cover change of valleys on the Tibetan Plateau is of great significance to the understanding of regional and global environmental change. Existing research on land use/land cover change, however, rarely involves this region, due to the lack of historical data. This article attempts to fill this gap by exploring historical land use/cover change in the region. The vast Tibetan Plateau has a high altitude and cold climate, and is regarded as "the third pole of the earth," due to its special geographical position. Arable land area of the plateau is small although the total land area is large. The development of agriculture is restricted by the harsh natural environment. On the plateau weather condition in general is poor, but some valleys in the interior of the plateau have relatively low attitude and slope and high temperature and and fertile soil, so the cultivated land is mainly distributed in these valleys. The role of human factors on the distribution of cropland is very weak, especially in the historical period when agricultural productivity was low. Cropland distribution mainly depends on the suitability of land for reclamation, which is affected by a variety of natural environmental conditions. In this study, we first analyzed the relationship between environmental factors and the distribution of cultivated land in the Tibetan Plateau. We then divided the factors into limiting and non-limiting factor groups, and eliminated the areas that is not suitable for farming, and then distributed the cultivated land data based on suitability using a composite model. We reconstructed the cropland spatial distribution of the Yellow River-Huangshui River Valley in 1726 by using this method .The results show that this method is suitable for reconstructing historical cropland spatial distribution where agricultural productivity was low and the natural environment conditions strongly limited the development of agriculture.

Key words: Tibetan Plateau, valley agriculture, cropland spatial distribution, the grid model, Yellow River- Huangshui River Valley