PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (2): 310-326.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.02.012

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Research progress and prospect of telecoupling of Human-Earth system

MA Enpu1,2, CAI Jianming1,*(), HAN Yan1,2, LIAO Liuwen1,2, LIN Jing1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-01-22 Revised:2019-07-21 Online:2020-02-28 Published:2020-04-28
  • Contact: CAI Jianming
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(71734001);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41371008);Transition towards Urban Sustainability through Socially Integrative Cities in the EU and in China(770141)


Achieving sustainable development in an increasingly interconnected globalized world requires cross-system thinking and more integrated regional policy. First, it requires disciplines devoted to sustainable development research to improve their insights into trans-regional resource and environmental issues. Accordingly, it is necessary to promote the adaptive innovation and transformation of the traditional research framework of geography. Telecoupling, as a theoretical framework focusing on socioeconomic and environmental interactions among coupled human and natural systems over distances, has great potential and advantages to facilitate the process of theoretical innovation. In order to narrow the gap between Chinese and international research in the field of telecoupling, we introduce the telecoupling framework and its application progress from theoretical construction, empirical evidence, key research areas, and research methods based on literature review, document analysis, and our own understanding of telecoupling, and further give some suggests. The review shows that there is a large amount of empirical evidence of telecoupling in the dimensions of teleconnection, globalization, and urbanization due to the continuous growth of long-distance human activities and their interaction with large-scale natural processes. Currently, the application of the telecoupling framework in academia mainly focuses on three aspects: ecosystem services, the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of telecoupling, and land change science. Due to the progress in operationalizing the theories, current telecoupling research has been well supported methodologically. We further argue that geographical research based on the telecoupling framework should make breakthroughs in the theoretical innovation of Human-Earth relationship network system, telecoupling mechanism, and telecoupling regulatory tool sets, so that scientific research can keep up with the latest trends and solve the emerging real world problems.

Key words: Human-Earth system, telecoupling, empirical evidence, ecosystem services, telecoupling effects, land change science