Climate Change and Desertification with Special Reference to the Cases in China

Part of the International Year of Planet Earth book series (IYPE)

Abstract

This chapter briefly reviews the terminological origin, development and the latest status of desertification and demonstrates the significant impact of the climatic variations in the processes of desertification and its rehabilitations. Two typical arid regions at Asia’s middle latitudes are selected as cases for studies, i.e., the oases in the hyper-arid Taklamakan Desert in the west and the semi-arid Hunshandake Sandy Land in the east (Fig. 1). It shows that humans set up cultivation bases in the center of the Taklamakan Desert over 2,000 years ago and the later abandonment of these bases was probably caused by decrease in runoffs associated with droughts. In shaping the landscape changes between soil formation and aeolian sedimentation in the Hunshandake, the role played by the Holocene changes of East Asia summer monsoons surpasses the impact of human activities since the Neolithic time, meaning that the climatic background and its potential changes should be given greater attention in the aims and schemes of combating desertification. The rapid vegetation regeneration in recent years in the Hunshandake reconfirms the great importance of climatic background in ecological rehabilitations in desertified lands. In the course of global warming, the risks of desertification are likely to increase in both areas due to different reasons.

Keywords

Desertification Climatic change Oasis Arid zone Semiarid area China 

References

  1. Aubréville A (1949) Climats, forêts et desertification de l’Afrique tropicale. Société d’Editions Géographiques. Paris: Maritimes et Coloniales.Google Scholar
  2. Berg L (1907) Ist Zentral-Asien im Austrocknen begriffen? Geogr Z 13:568–579.Google Scholar
  3. Conacher A, Gisladottir G (2006) UN year of deserts and desertification: Policy implications. Quat Sci (in Chinese) 26:1030.Google Scholar
  4. Crutzen P (2002) Atmospheric chemistry in the “Anthropocene.” In: W Steffen, J Jäger, D Carson et al. (Eds), Challenges of a Changing Earth: Proceedings of the Global Change Open Science Conference. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2001. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  5. Dodson J, Taylor D, Ono Y, Wang P (2004) Climate, human, and natural systems of the PEP II transect. Quat Int 118–119:3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Duan Z, Xiao H, Dong Z, He X, Wang G (2001) Estimate of total CO2 output from desertified sandy land in China. Atmos Environ 35:5915–5921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. El-Baz F (2008) Let deserts be. Nature 456:30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Emanuel K (1987) The dependence of hurricane intensity on climate. Nature 326:483–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Feddema J (1999) Future African water resources: Interactions between soil degradation and global warming. Clim Change 42:561–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Feng Q, Cheng G, Masao M (2002) The carbon cycle of sandy lands in China and its global significance. Clim Change 48:535–549.Google Scholar
  11. Goudie A (2002) Great Warm Deserts of the World: Landscapes and Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Goudie A (2009) Dust storms: Recent developments. J Environ Manage 90:89–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Helldén U, Tottrup C (2008) Regional desertification: A global synthesis. Glob Planet Change 64:169–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Huang W (1958) Records of Archaeological Investigations in the Tarim Basin (in Chinese). Beijing: Science Press.Google Scholar
  15. Ji X (1985) Annotations to the Historical Book “Records from the Travel to the West During the Tang Dynasty” (in Chinese). Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company.Google Scholar
  16. Jiang W, Guo Z, Sun X, Wu H, Chu G, Yuan B, Hatté C, Guiot J (2006) Reconstruction of climate and vegetation changes of Lake Bayanchagan (Inner Mongolia): Holocene variability of the East Asia monsoon. Quat Int 65:411–420.Google Scholar
  17. Krinner G, Boucher O, Balkanski Y (2006) Ice-free glacial northern Asia due to dust deposition on snow. Clim Dyn 27:613–625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Li S, Sun J, Zhao H (2002) Optical dating of dune sands in the northeastern deserts of China. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 181:419–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liu T (2004) Demand of Anthropocene study in the new stage of geoscience: in honor of late geologist Huang Jiqing for his innovative spirit. Quat Sci 24:369–378 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  20. Liu J, Diamond J (2005) China’s environment in a globalizing world. Nature 435:1179–1186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liu S, Wang T (2007) Aeolian desertification from the mid-1970s to 2005 in Otindag Sandy Land, Northern China. Environ Geol 51:1057–1064.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lu H, Miao X, Zhou Y, Mason J, Swinehart J, Zhang J, Zhou L, Yi S (2005) Late Quaternary aeolian activity in the Mu Us and Otindag dune fields (north China) and lagged response to insolation forcing. Geophys Res Lett doi: 10.1029/2005GL024560.Google Scholar
  23. Luo C, Liu W, Peng Z, Yang D, He J, Liu G, Zhang P (2008) Stable carbon isotope record of organic matter from the Lop-Nur lacustrine sediment in Xinjiang, northwest China. Quat Sci 28:621–628 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  24. Manabe S, Wetherald R (1986) Reduction in summer soil wetness induced by an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Science 232:626–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mensching H (1990) Desertifikation: ein weltweites Problem der ökologischen Verwüstung in den Trockengebieten der Erde. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  26. Peng Y, Jiang G, Liu M, Niu S, Yu S, Biswas D, Zhang Q, Shi X, Yang Q (2005) Potentials for combating desertification in Hunshandak Sandland through nature reserve. Environ Manage 35:453–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Qin D (2002) The Synthesis Report on the Evaluation of Western China’s Environmental Evolution (in Chinese). Beijing: Science Press.Google Scholar
  28. Research Group “study on combating desertification/land degradation in China” (1998) Study on Combating Desertification/Land Degradation in China. Beijing: China Environmental Science Press.Google Scholar
  29. Ruddiman W, Guo Z, Zhou X, Wu H, Yu Y (2008) Early rice farming and anomalous methane trends. Quat Sci Rev 27:1291–1295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Seuffert O (2001) Landschafts(zer)störung – Ursachen, Prozesse, Produkte, Definition & Perspektiven. Geo-Öko 22:91–102.Google Scholar
  31. Sino-French Expedition Team (1997) Outlines of the results from the archaeological excavations in the reaches of the Keriya River, Xinjiang. Xinjing Antiquities 48:1–12 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  32. Suo X, Li S (2007) Preliminary studies on epochs of Hongshan Culture in the relics of Nuiheliang. Archaeology 10:52–61 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  33. Stone R (2008) Have desert researchers discovered a hidden loop in the carbon cycle? Science 320:1409–1410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Thomas D, Middleton N (1994) Desertification: Exploding the Myth. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  35. Thomas D, Knight M, Wiggs G (2005) Remobilization of southern African desert dune systems by twenty-first century global warming. Nature 435:1218–1221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. UNCCD (1999) United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa: Text with Annexes. Bonn: Secretariat of the Convention to Combat Desertification.Google Scholar
  37. UNEP (1977) World Map of Desertification at a Scale of 1:25,000,000. Nairobi: FAO/UNEP/WMO.Google Scholar
  38. Wang W, Ren B (2007) Onqin Daga Desert and Korqin Desert since the North Wei Dynasty. J Taiyuan Normal Univ (Natural Science Edition) 6:107–110 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  39. Wohlfahrt G, Fenstermaker L, Arnone J (2008) Large annual net ecosystem CO2 uptake of a Mojave Desert ecosystem. Glob Change Biol 14:1475–1487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Xia X, Wang F, Zhao Y (Eds) (2007) Chinese Lop Nuer (in Chinese). Beijing: Science Press.Google Scholar
  41. Xiao J, Xu Q, Nakamura T, Yang X, Liang W, Inouchi Y (2004) Holocene vegetation variation in the Daihai Lake region of north-central China: A direct indication of the Asian monsoon climatic history. Quat Sci Rev 23:1669–1679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Xie J, Li Y, Zhai C, Li C, Lan Z (2009) CO2 absorption by alkaline soils and its implication to the global carbon cycle. Environ Geol 56:953–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Xu Z, Li C, Kong Z (2004) On the fossil Pediastrum from the Gaoximage Section, Hunshandak Sandy Land and its ecological significance since 5000 a BP. Acta Bot Sin 46:1141–1148.Google Scholar
  44. Yan S, Mu G, Xu Y, Zhao Z (1998) Quaternary environmental evolution of the Lop Nur region, China. Acta Geogr Sin 53:332–340 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  45. Yang X (1998) Desertification and land use in the arid areas of central Asia. Quat Sci 18:119–127 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  46. Yang X, Rost K, Lehmkuhl F, Zhu Z, Dodson J (2004) The evolution of dry lands in northern China and in the Republic of Mongolia since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quat Int 118/119:69–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yang X, Liu Z, Zhang F, White P, Wang X (2006) Hydrological changes and land degradation in the southern and eastern Tarim Basin, Xinjiang, China. Land Degrad Dev 17:381–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yang X, Ding Z, Fan X, Zhou Z, Ma N (2007) Processes and mechanisms of desertification in northern China during the last 30 years, with a special reference to the Hunshandake Sandy Land, eastern Inner Mongolia. Catena 71:2–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yang X, Zhu B, Wang X, Wang X, Li C, Zhou Z, Chen J, Wang X, Yin J, Lu Y (2008) Late Quaternary environmental changes and organic carbon density in the Hunshandake Sandy Land, eastern Inner Mongolia, China. Glob Planet Change 61:70–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhu K (1972) Preliminary studies on climatic changes in China during the last 5000 years. Acta Archaeologica Sinica 1:13–38 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  51. Zhu Z (1998) Concept, cause and control of desertification in China. Quat Sci 18:145–155 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  52. Zhu Z, Lu J (1991) A study on the formation and development of aeolian landforms and the trend of environmental changes in the lower reaches of the Keriya River, Central Taklimakan Desert. Die Erde Ergaenzungsheft 6:89–97.Google Scholar
  53. Zhu Z, Wu Z, Liu S, Di X (1980) An Outline of Chinese Deserts (in Chinese). Beijing: Science Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations