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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(8), 626;

A GIS-Based Assessment of Vulnerability to Aeolian Desertification in the Source Areas of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers

Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 320 Donggang West Road, 730000 Lanzhou, Gansu, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100049 Beijing, China
Department of Geography, Shaanxi Normal University, No. 620 West Chang’an Avenue, Chang’an District, 710119 Xi’an, Shaanxi, China
College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, 100875 Beijing, China
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, MOE Engineering Research Center of Desertification and Blown-Sand Control, Beijing Normal University, 100875 Beijing, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Cheinway Hwang, Wenbin Shen, C.K. Shum, Stéphane Calmant, Parth Sarathi Roy and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 24 March 2016 / Revised: 19 July 2016 / Accepted: 22 July 2016 / Published: 29 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Tibet and Siberia)
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Aeolian desertification is a kind of land degradation that is characterized by aeolian activity, resulting from the responses of land ecosystems to climate change and anthropogenic disturbances. The source areas of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers are typical regions of China’s Tibetan Plateau affected by aeolian desertification. We assessed the vulnerability of these areas to aeolian desertification by combining remote sensing with geographical information system technologies. We developed an assessment model with eight indicators, whose weights were determined by the analytical hierarchy process. Employing this model, we analyzed the spatial distribution of vulnerability to aeolian desertification and its changes from 2000 to 2010, and discuss the implications. Overall, low-vulnerability land was the most widespread, accounting for 64%, 62%, and 71% of the total study area in 2000, 2005, and 2010, respectively. The degree of vulnerability showed regional differences. In the source areas of the Yangtze River, land with high or very high vulnerability accounted for 17.4% of this sub-region in 2010, versus 2.6% in the source areas of the Yellow River. In the Zoige Basin, almost all of the land had very low to low vulnerability. To understand the change in vulnerability to aeolian desertification, we calculated an integrated vulnerability index (IVI). This analysis indicated that the vulnerability to aeolian desertification increased from 2000 to 2005 (IVI increased from 2.1709 to 2.2463), and decreased from 2005 to 2010 (IVI decreased from 2.2463 to 2.0057). Increasing regional temperatures appear to be primarily responsible for the change in vulnerability to aeolian desertification throughout the region. The effects of other factors (climatic variation and human activities) differed among the various sub-regions. The implementation of the ecological restoration project has achieved a noticeable effect since 2005. Our results provide empirical support for effort to protect the ecology of this ecologically fragile region. View Full-Text
Keywords: vulnerability; aeolian desertification; remote sensing; GIS; headwaters; Yangtze River; Yellow River vulnerability; aeolian desertification; remote sensing; GIS; headwaters; Yangtze River; Yellow River

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Ren, X.; Dong, Z.; Hu, G.; Zhang, D.; Li, Q. A GIS-Based Assessment of Vulnerability to Aeolian Desertification in the Source Areas of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 626.

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