Boundary of Loess Plateau Region
1State Key Lab of Resources and Environmental Information System Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research，CAS
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The Loess Plateau in mid-north China is well known for its deep soil, severe erosion and resulting unique geomorphology, alarming deposition in downstream Yellow River, and as the cradle of many ancient Chinese civilizations.
However, there are different definitions about the extent of the Loess Plateau because of the fuzziness of the yellowish soil’s distribution. During 1955-1958, The First Water and Soil Conservation Expedition in min-stream Yellow River, organized by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), defined the Loess Plateau as the areas extended from Taihang Mt. to Riyue Mt. in east-west direction, and between Qinling Mt. and the Great Wall in south-north direction. This is basically a geomorphologic definition.
About thirty years later, another larger expedition was started in 1984, namely, Integrated Scientific Survey in Loess Plateau Region, also organized by CAS and headed by Professor Zhang Youshi, deputy director of former Commission for Integrated Survey of Natural Resources (CISNAR), CAS. Over 50 academic institutes, universities, and government agencies took part in this expedition, and more than 500 people made their contributions. This project lasted six years and finished in 1990. This may be the largest scientific expedition ever in the Loess Plateau Region.
Unlike the 1955 expedition, the 1984 expedition was more application-oriented, influenced by then popular ‘territorial management’. As a result, the extent of survey was broader. Except for the yellowish soil distribution, three factors effected the finalization of study area: first, the soil erosion in north of the Great Wall was as severe as that in Loess Plateau; second, some nearby regions of Loess Plateau was also rich in coal and they should be considered as a system for better management; third, for effective inter-discipline studies between natural and socio-economic sectors, and also for future decision making, the smallest unit of zoning should be county. Finally, 285 counties in 7 provinces (autonomous region) were selected for survey, geographically, it extended from Taihang Mt. to Riyue Mt. in east-west direction, and from Qinling Mt. to Yinshan Mt. in south-north direction. To avoid confusion with the 1955 expedition, the 1984 expedition named this area as “the Loess Plateau Region（LPR）”.
Given the technical conditions in 1984, there was no digital dataset for the border of LPR. As a result, different total areas of LPR may be used in various research units although every research unit regarded the same 285 counties as their common research extent. For instance, the total area of LPR published by one group was 63.2x104km2, and 62.3777 x104Km2 by another group.
To avoid confusion, the present LPR border was developed using the 285 counties qualified by 1984 expedition and the 1:1M county dataset (shapefile) published by National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation of China in 2010. The total area of LPR based on this criteria is 624641km2.
WANG Zhengxing.2015.Boundary of Loess Plateau Region ( LoessPlateauRegion ) ,Global Change Research Data Publishing & Repository,DOI:10.3974/geodb.2015.01.09.V1