Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 179–194 | Cite as

Role of permafrost in resilience of social-ecological system and its spatio-temporal dynamics in the source regions of Yangtze and Yellow Rivers

  • Yi-ping FangEmail author
  • Fu-biao Zhu
  • Shu-hua Yi
  • Xiao-ping Qiu
  • Yong-jian Ding


Permafrost is one of the key components of terrestrial ecosystem in cold regions. In the context of climate change, few studies have investigated resilience of social ecological system (SER) from the perspective of permafrost that restricts the hydrothermal condition of alpine grassland ecosystem. In this paper, based on the structural dynamics, we developed the numerical model for the SER in the permafrost regions of the source of Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, analyzed the spatial-temporal characteristics and sensitivity of the SER, and estimated the effect of permafrost change on the SER. The results indicate that: 1) the SER has an increasing trend, especially after 1997, which is the joint effect of precipitation, temperature, NPP and ecological conservation projects; 2) the SER shows the spatial feature of high in southeast and low in northwest, which is consistent with the variation trends of high southeast and low northwest for the precipitation, temperature and NPP, and low southeast and high northwest for the altitude; 3) the high sensitive regions of SER to the permafrost change have gradually transited from the island distribution to zonal and planar distribution since 1980, moreover, the sensitive degree has gradually reduced; relatively, the sensitivity has high value in the north and south, and low value in the south and east; 4) the thickness of permafrost active layer shows a highly negative correlation with the SER. The contribution rate of permafrost change to the SER is -4.3%, that is, once the thickness of permafrost active layer increases 1 unit, the SER would decrease 0.04 units.


Resilience of social ecological system Permafrost Permafrost active layer thickness Structural dynamic equation Source regions of Yangtze and Yellow rivers 


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The work has been supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41571523, and Grant No. 41661144038), the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2013CBA01808), the National Key Technology R&D Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (Grant No. 2014BAC05B01).


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.College of Resource and EnvironmentUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of EconomicsHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  4. 4.School of Geographic SciencesNantong UniversityNantongChina
  5. 5.College of Geography and Resources ScienceSichuan Normal UniversityChengduChina
  6. 6.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina

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