Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2020, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (3): 144-153.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2020.00144

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Mapping the dynamic degree of aeolian desertification in the Shiyang River Basin from 1975 to 2010

Jie Liao1,2(),Tao Wang1,ShaoXiu Ma1,2,Jian Guo3   

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
    2.Drylands Salinization Research Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
    3.Lanzhou Branch, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
  • Received:2019-10-18 Accepted:2020-04-14 Online:2020-06-30 Published:2020-06-29
  • Contact: Jie Liao


The Shiyang River Basin is an area of China that is severly affected by aeolian desertification. Thus, we established an aeolian desertified land classification system for visual interpretation, which classified the Aeolian Desertified Land (ADL) into Slight (SL), Moderate (M), Severe (S) and Extremely Severe (ES) according to the severity. Imagery of Landsat series (acquired in 1975, 1990, 2000 and 2010) were employed to monitor the status, trend and spatial pattern of aeolian desertification, especially to map the overall spatial pattern of ADL dynamics by proposing a new Dynamic Index (DI) in the Shiyang River Basin from 1975 to 2010. The results show a generally decreasing trend from 1975 to 2010. However, the ES ADL kept increasing throughout the whole study period. Moreover, the area of ADLs with different severity increased with increasing severity, this S and ES ADLs dominated characteristics of aeolian desertification was contrary to those sandy lands in eastern China where was dominated by SL and M ADLs. Among the three sub-periods of 1975-1990, 1990-2000 and 2000-2010, the first two were the restoration stage, while the last one was the expansion stage of aeolian desertification. Moreover, all these new ADLs occurred in Minqin County during 2000-2010, indicating a detrimental increase of aeolian desertification in Minqin, and the concentration of ADLs toward the lower reaches of the Shiyang River Basin. The DI works well to identify areas with desertification changes no matter the sub-periods. Moreover, DI results disclosed a stable status of aeolian desertification, and the DI decreased with increasing ADL severity. These results indicate that it will be difficult to control the expansion of aeolian desertification in Minqin County over an extended period of time. Thus, we suggest effective and long-lasting aeolian desertification control programs in the Shiyang River Basin, especially in Minqin, and SL and M ADLs should have priority in facilitating a quick reversal of aeolian desertification.

Key words: aeolian desertification, dynamic degree, Shiyang River Basin, Minqin

Figure 1

Location, terrain and hydrology of the Shiyang River Basin, China"

Table 1

Aeolian Desertified Land (ADL) classification system"

SeverityVCSSCLandscape features

Satellite image features

False color images

SL ADL>60%<5%The original landscape is mostly maintained, only with sparse and spotted shifting sand or blowout distribution. The vegetation cover is good, but vegetation degradation can be identified occasionally.Patches are light red overall, shifting sand can be barely recognized. Boundaries between vegetation and sand are not clear.
M ADL30%-60%5%-25%Semi-fixed dunes almost cover the area. Shifting dunes, shifting sands or blowouts are sparsely scattered around semi-fixed dunes. The vegetation cover is worse than that of the SL ADL but still good comparatively.Patches are not pure color, but covered by yellow and white alternately, and dotted by red.
S ADL10%-30%25%-50%Shifting dunes, shifting sand sheets and blowouts are widely distributed across the area. Vegetation is sparse.Patches are dominated by yellow and white, and dotted by sparse light red, have a rough texture. Boundaries between vegetation and sand are clear.
ES ADL<10%>50%The area is dominated by shifting dunes or shifting sand sheets. The blowouts are widely distributed. There is little or no vegetation cover. Sparse plants can only grow on small pieces of lowlands between dunes.Patches are purely yellow or white, have a rough texture and dune-like patterns. Shifting sand/ dunes can be identified.

Figure 2

Temporal trend of ADLs with different severity from 1975 to 2010"

Figure 3

Spatial patterns of ADLs with different severity from 1975 to 2010 (a, b, c, and d indicate the year 1975, 1990, 2000 and 2010 accordingly)"

Table 2

Area of ADLs with different dynamic types (Unit: ×103 km2)"


Figure 4

Spatial patterns of ADL Dynamics in the sub-periods of 1975-1990 (a), 1990-2000 (b) and 2000-2010 (c) (Restored ADL means ADLs became Non-ADL, Relieved ADL indicates ADLs of higher severity became ADLs of lighter severity. New ADL and Deteriorated ADL are the opposite of Restored ADL and Relieved ADL)"

Figure 5

The area of changed ADLs with different severity and its ratio to the ADL area with corresponding severity from 1975 to 2010"

Figure 6

The spatial pattern of DI in the Shiyang River Basin from 1975 to 2010"

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