The increasingly serious problem of land degradation has a direct impact on the ecosystem and sustainable development in Mongolia. The influence of land degradation on the main China–Mongolia–Russia traffic arteries is currently unclear and poses a risk to the construction of transportation infrastructure. In this study, for the first time, we obtained land cover data from 1990, 2010, and 2015, at a 30 m, resolution based on the Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Landsat Operational Land Imager (OLI) images along the China–Mongolia railway (Mongolia section). We then analyzed the change in the obtained land cover data using the geographic information system (GIS) spatial analysis technology to obtain the land pattern and development trend of this region. Results showed that the newly-increased degraded land was distributed mainly in the center of the region and tended to expand northward. The joint effect of natural and socioeconomic factors resulted in land degradation. We speculated that the significant temperature fluctuation and the decrease in rainfall were the inducing factors. Population migration, overgrazing, infrastructure construction, unreasonable mineral exploitation, and rapid urbanization aggravate the degree of land degradation. It is thus necessary to use a broader view to observe patterns of desertification and variations in regions along the Railway facing its sustainable development.
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