Research on the slope spectrum of the Loess Plateau

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Abstract

A new concept dealing with digital analysis of loess terrain, slope spectrum, is presented and discussed in this paper, by introducing its characteristic, representation and extracting method from DEMs. Using 48 geomorphological units in different parts of the loess as test areas and 5 m-resolution DEMs as original test data, the quantitative depiction and spatial distribution of slope spectrum in China’s Loess Plateau have been studied on the basis of a series of carefully-designed experiments. In addition, initial experiment indicates a strong relationship between the slope spectrum and the loess landform types, displaying a potential importance of the slope spectrum in geomorphological studies. Based on the slope spectrums derived from the 25 m-resolution DEM data in whole loess terrain in northern part of Shaanxi, 13 slope spectrum indices were extracted and integrated into a comprehensive layer with image integration method. Based on that, a series of unsupervised classifications was applied in order to make a landform classification in northern Shaanxi Loess Plateau. Experimental results show that the slope spectrum analysis is an effective method in revealing the macro landform features. A continuous change of slope spectrum from south to north in northern Shaanxi Loess Plateau shows an obvious spatial distribution of different loess landforms. This also proves the great significance of the slope spectrum method in describing the terrain roughness and landform evolution as well as a further understanding on landform genesis and spatial distribution rule of different landforms in the Loess Plateau.

Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 40671148 and 40571120)