The impacts of urbanization on soil erosion in the Loess Plateau region


The accelerated urbanization has resulted in new soil erosion in the Loess Plateau region since the 1980s. A concept of urban erosion and its impacts on environment are discussed. The experimental studies and field investigations show that those loose silt and earth piles formed by urban construction can be eroded seriously: Under stormy rain, the amount of sediment from steep man-dumped slope is 10.8–12.2 times that of from uncovered slope land; the result of experiments with the wind tunnel also shows that the damage to the surface structure of dry loess can cause serious soil erosion by wind in some cities of the region. Even if in the urban built-up area, there are many loose sandy soil, mud and silt, which are washed into rivers by city’s ground flow in the rainy season. So, anthropogenically induced soil erosion has made soil erosion more serious around the urban areas. And the urban eroded environment has several characteristics such as fragility, complexity, seasonality and quick variability. Urban areas witness a quick economic growth and have more construction projects than rural areas, which brings more intensive changes of environments during a short period of time or adds some new elements to the erosion system. Therefore erosion has experienced more intensive impact by human activities. So, the possible impact of urbanization on erosion environment must be taken into consideration when designing or planning to exploit natural resources or to develop urban areas in the Loess Plateau.

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Correspondence to Sun Hu.

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Hu, S., Zhi-mao, G. & Jun-ping, Y. The impacts of urbanization on soil erosion in the Loess Plateau region. J. Geogr. Sci. 11, 282–290 (2001).

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Key words

  • the Loess Plateau
  • urban erosion environment
  • impacts
  • characteristics