Urban areas and its evolution are important anthropogenic indicators and human ecological footprints, and play decisive roles in environmental change analysis, global geo-conditional monitoring, and sustainable development. China has the highest rate of urban expansion and has emerged as an urban expansion hotspot worldwide. In this paper, the progress of studies on Chinese urban expansion based on remote sensing technology are summarized and analyzed from the aspects of urban area definition, remotely sensed imagery applied in urban expansion, monitoring methods of urban expansion, and urban expansion applications. Existing issues and future direc-tions of Chinese urban expansion are discussed and proposed. Results indicate that:1) The fusion of multi-source remotely sensed imagery is imperative to meet the needs of urban expansion with various monitoring terms and frequencies on different scales and dimensions. 2) To guarantee the classification accuracy and efficiency and describe urban expansion and its influences on local land use simultaneously, the combination of visual interpretation and automatic classification is the tendency of future monitoring methods of urban areas. 3) Urban expansion data have become the prerequisite for recognizing the urban development process, excavating its driving forces, simulating and predicting the future development directions, and also is conducive to revealing and explaining urban ecological and environmental issues. 4) In the past decades, Chinese scholars have promoted the application of remote sensing technology in the urban expansion field, with data construction, methods and models developing from the quotation stage to improvement and innovation stage; however, an independent and consistent urban expansion data on the national scale with long-term and high-frequency (such as annual monitoring) monitoring is still lacking.
Extreme heat events have serious effects on human daily life. Accurately capturing the dynamic variance of extreme high-temperature distributions in a timely manner is the basis for analyzing the potential impacts of extreme heat, thereby informing risk prevention strategies. This paper demonstrates the potential application of multiple source remote sensing data in mapping and monitoring the extreme heat events that occurred on Aug. 8, 2013 in Jiangsu Province, China. In combination with MODIS products, the thermal sharpening (TsHARP) method and a binary linear model are compared to downscale the original daytime FengYun 2F (FY-2F) land surface temperature (LST) imagery, with a temporal resolution of 60 min, from 5 km to 1 km. Using the meteorological measurement data from Nanjing station as the reference, the research then estimates the instantaneous air temperature by using an iterative computation based on the Surface Energy Balance Algorithm for Land (SEBAL), which is used to analyze the spatio-temporal air temperature variance. The results show that the root mean square error (RMSE) of the LST downscaled from the binary linear model is 1.30℃ compared to the synchronous MODIS LST, and on this basis the estimated air temperature has the RMSE of 1.78℃. The spatial and temporal distribution of air temperature variance at each geographical location from 06:30 to 18:30 can be accurately determined, and indicates that the high temperature gradually increases and expands from the city center. For the spatial distribution, the air temperature and the defined scorching temperature proportion index increase from northern to middle, to southern part of Jiangsu, and are slightly lower in the eastern area near the Yellow Sea. In terms of temporal characteristics, the percentage of area with air temperature above 37℃ in each city increase with time after 10:30 and reach the peak value at 14:30 or 15:30. Then, they decrease gradually, and the rising and falling trends become smaller from the southern cities to the northern regions. Moreover, there is a distinct positive relationship between the percentage of area above 37℃ and the population density. The above results show that the spatio-temporal distributions of heat waves and their influencing factors can be determined by combining multiple sources of remotely sensed image data.
The adjustment of administrative divisions is one of the important factors guiding China's urbanization, which has profound economic and social effects for regional development. In this paper, we comprehensively describe the process of the adjustment of administrative divisions at provincial and municipal levels in China and summarize the effects on the basic structure and patterns of the spatial development. We quantitatively assess the effects on fields such as urbanization and social economy through the use of multidimensional scaling. The results show that:1) Upgrading county to municipality (or city-governed district) is the main way of adjusting the administrative divisions. It is also an important factor in the spatial differentiation of interprovincial urbanization. China's population urbanization can be divided into four patterns including interprovincial migration, provincial migration, natural growth, and growth caused by the adjustment of administrative divisions, which is also the main reason for the increased Chinese urbanization rate at the provincial level. 2) Taking the city of Beijing as an example, we generalize five adjustment patterns made to administrative divisions:the set-up of sub-districts, the set-up of regional offices, the upgrading of townships to sub-districts, the upgrading of townships to towns, and the set-up of towns and the addition of new regional offices. We summarize the municipal urban spatial structure, including the sub-district office area in the central urban area, the regional office area in the new urban area, the mixed area of villages, towns, and sub-district offices in the suburb area, and the township area in the outer suburb area. 3) The adjustment of administrative divisions triggers a significant circulative accumulation effect, resulting in the spatial locking of population and industrial agglomeration. It affects the evolution of the urban spatial form and plays an important role in shaping the urban spatial structure to move to the characteristic of multicenter. In general, the adjustment of administrative divisions was an important factor affecting the inflated statistical level of urbanization and also an important driving force for the evolution of Chinese urban spatial organization structure.
Understanding the temporal variations of extreme floods that occur in response to climate change is essential to anticipate the trends in flood magnitude and frequency in the context of global warming. However, long-term records of paleofloods in arid regions are scarce, thus preventing a thorough understanding of such events. In this study, a reconstruction of paleofloods over the past 300 years was conducted through an analysis of grain sizes from the sediments of Kanas Lake in the Altay Mountains of northwestern China. Results showed that grain parameters and frequency distributions can be used to infer possible abrupt environmental events within the lake sedimentary sequence, and two extreme flood events corresponding to ca. 1736-1765 AD and ca. 1890 AD were further identified based on canonical discriminant analysis (CDA) and coarse percentile versus median grain size (C-M) pattern analysis, both of which occurred during warmer and wetter climate conditions by referring to tree-ring records. These two flood events are also evidenced by lake sedimentary records in the Altay and Tianshan mountains. Furthermore, through a comparison with other records, the flood event from ca. 1736-1765 AD in the study region seems to have occurred in both the arid central Asia and the Alps in Europe, and thus may have been associated with changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index.
Drought, as a recurring extreme climate event, affects the structure, function, and process of terrestrial ecosystems. Despite the increasing occurrence and intensity of the drought in the past decade in Southwestern China, the impacts of continuous drought events on vegetation in this region remain unclear. During 2001-2012, Southwestern China experienced the severe drought events from 2009 to 2011. Our aim is to characterize drought conditions in the Southwestern China and explore the impacts on the vegetation condition and terrestrial ecosystem productivity. The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) was used to characterize drought area and intensity and a light-use efficiency model was used to explore the effect of drought on the terrestrial ecosystem productivity with Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) data. The SPI captured the major drought events in Southwestern China during the study period, indicated that the 12-year period of this study included both ‘normal’ precipitation years and two severe drought events in 2009-2010 and 2011. Results showed that vegetation greenness (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, NDVI and Enhanced Vegetation Index, EVI) both declined in 2009/2010 drought, but the 2011 drought resulted in less declines of vegetation greenness and productivity due to shorten drought duration and rising temperature. Meanwhile, it was about 5 months lapse between drought events and maximum declines in vegetation greenness for 2009/2010 drought events. In addition, forest, grassland and cropland revealed significant different ecosystem responses to drought. It indicated that grassland showed an early sensitivity to drought, while cropland was the most sensitive to water deficit and forest was more resilient to drought. This study suggests that it is necessary to detect the difference responses of ecosystem to drought in a regional area with satellite data and ecosystem model.
There is an increasing concern for potentially hazardous metals pollution, which can threaten crops production and human health. In this study, the spatial distribution and environmental risks of eight heavy metals in surface soil samples collected from the paddy fields in Yongshuyu irrigation area, Northeast China were investigated. The mean concentrations of Pb, Cr, Cu, Ni, Zn, Cd, Hg and As were 34.6 ±4.67, 82.8 ±9.51, 17.3 ±4.09, 21.2 ±12.0, 88.6 ±17.9, 0.18 ±0.15, 0.22 ±0.07 and 8.77 ±2.47 mg/kg, respectively, which were slightly higher than their corresponding background values of Jilin Province, indicating enrichment of these metals in the paddy soils, especially for Ni, Cd and Hg. The spatial distribution of heavy metals was closely correlated with local anthropogenic activities, such as agricultural production, mining and transportation. The hot-spot areas of As and Cd were mainly concentrated in the up-midstream where were associated with agricultural activities. Cr and Cu showed similar spatial distributions with hot-spot areas distributed the whole irrigation area uniformly. Ni was mainly distributed in the downstream where Ni quarries concentrated, while the spatial distribution patterns of Hg was mainly located in the upstream and downstream where the soil was significantly influenced by irrigation and coal mining emission. The spatial distributions of Pb and Zn were mainly concentrated along the highway side. The pollution levels of Yongshuyu irrigation area were estimated through index of geo-accumulation (Igeo), Nemerow integrated pollution index (NIPI) and potential ecological risk index (PERI). The results showed that Cd and Hg were the main pollutants in the study area. Health risk assessment results indicated that children were in higher non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks than adults with the carcinogenic metal of As. Ingestion was the main exposure pathway to non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risk for both adults and children. Principal component analysis (PCA) indicated that Cr and Cu were mainly from parent materials, while Cd and As were mainly affected by agricultural activities. Pb and Zn were controlled by traffic activities, and the accumulations of Ni and Hg were associated with mining activities. This study would be valuable for preventing heavy metals inputs and safety in rice production of the Songhua river basin.
High PM2.5 concentrations and frequent air pollution episodes during late autumn and winter in Jilin Province have attracted attention in recent years. To describe the spatial and temporal variations of PM2.5 concentrations and identify the decisive influencing factors, a large amount of continuous daily PM2.5 concentration data collected from 33 monitoring stations over 2-year period from 2015 to 2016 were analyzed. Meanwhile, the relationships were investigated between PM2.5 concentrations and the land cover, socioeconomic and meteorological factors from the macroscopic perspective using multiple linear regressions (MLR) approach. PM2.5 concentrations across Jilin Province averaged 49 μg/m3, nearly 1.5 times of the Chinese annual average standard, and exhibited seasonal patterns with generally higher levels during late autumn and over the long winter than the other seasons. Jilin Province could be divided into three kinds of sub-regions according to 2-year average PM2.5 concentration of each city. Most of the spatial variation in PM2.5 levels could be explained by forest land area, cultivated land area, urban greening rate, coal consumption and soot emissions of cement manufacturing. In addition, daily PM2.5 concentrations had negative correlation with daily precipitation and positive correlation with air pressure for each city, and the spread and dilution effect of wind speed on PM2.5 was more obvious at mountainous area in Jilin Province. These results indicated that coal consumption, cement manufacturing and straw burning were the most important emission sources for the high PM2.5 levels, while afforestation and urban greening could mitigate particulate air pollution. Meanwhile, the individual meteorological factors such as precipitation, air pressure, wind speed and temperature could influence local PM2.5 concentration indirectly.
Environmental efficiency standards are often used to evaluate the costs of oceanic economic development. A variety of statistical analyses were applied in this study to quantify the marine environmental efficiency of 11 Chinese coastal provinces and municipalities between 2000 and 2014. Results initially reveal that environmental efficiency measures that incorporate undesirable outputs are more consistent with real production conditions and thus the use of marine economic and environmental efficiencies supplement and complement one another. Second, overall marine environmental efficiency across China tends to be low and can be spatially characterized by a transformation such that the inefficiencies noted in 2000 have subsequently been transformed to comprise a three-tiered structure that encompasses northern, central, and southern cores. Third, variation in absolute and relative marine environmental efficiency differences for the coastal regions of China have been consistent over time; values initially decreased before increasing again in a fluctuating manner over the time period of this analysis. Fourth, data show that the Pearl River Delta area has experienced the highest rate of change in marine environmental efficiency over time when economic zones are used as basic research units, although values have nevertheless fluctuated significantly. Fifth, values for total factor productivity as well as technical efficiency and change across the Chinese marine economy all fluctuated over time but increased. Data show that changes in marine environmental efficiency across China can primarily be attributed to progress in marine science and technology. Finally, levels of capital investment and marine industrial pollution intensity are not significantly correlated with marine environmental efficiency. Indeed, both marine industrial structural levels and environmental protection technologies have had a positive effect on environmental efficiency while levels of investment in marine scientific research as well as the scale of economic development, the marine economy, and the degree of external openness have all exerted negative effects on this key variable.
Northeast China experiences severe atmospheric pollution, with an increasing occurrence of heavy haze episodes. However, the underlying forces driving haze formation during different seasons are poorly understood. In this study, we explored the spatio-temporal characteristics and causes of haze events in Northeast China by combining a range of data sources (i.e., ground monitoring, satellite-based products, and meteorological products). It was found that the ‘Shenyang-Changchun-Harbin (SCH)’ city belt was the most polluted area in the region on an annual scale. The spatial distribution of air quality index (AQI) values had a clear seasonality, with the worst pollution occurring in winter, an approximately oval-shaped polluted area around western Jilin Province in spring, and the best air quality occurring in summer and most of the autumn. The three periods that typically experienced intense haze events were Period I from mid-October to mid-November (i.e., late autumn and early winter), Period Ⅱ from late-December to February (i.e., the coldest time in winter), and Period Ⅲ from April to mid-May (i.e., spring). During Period I, strong PM2.5 emissions from seasonal crop residue burning and coal burning for winter heating were the dominant reasons for the occurrence of extreme haze events (AQI > 300). Period Ⅱ had frequent heavy haze events (200 < AQI < 300) in the coldest months of January and February, which were due to high PM2.5 emissions from coal burning and vehicle fuel consumption, a lower atmospheric boundary layer, and stagnant atmospheric conditions. Haze events in Period Ⅲ, with high PM10 concentrations, were primarily caused by the regional transportation of windblown dust from degraded grassland in central Inner Mongolia and bare soil in western Jilin Province. Local agricultural tilling could also release PM10 and enhance the levels of windblown dust from tilled soil. Better control of coal burning, fuel consumption, and crop residue burning in winter and autumn is urgently needed to address the haze problem in Northeast China.
Sediments have a significant influence on the cycling of nutrient elements in lake environments. In order to assess the distribution characteristics and estimate the bioavailability of phosphorus and nitrogen in Dianchi Lake, organic and inorganic phosphorus and nitrogen forms were analysed. The 210Pb radiometric dating method was employed to study temporal changes in the phosphorus and nitrogen pools in Dianchi Lake. The result show that the total phosphorus (TP) and total nitrogen (TN) were both at high concentrations, ranging from 697.5-3210.0 mg/kg and 1263.7-7155.2 mg/kg, respectively. Inorganic phosphorus (IP) and total organic nitrogen (TON) were the main constituents, at percentages of 59%-78% and 74%-95%, respectively, in the sediments. Spatially, there was a decreasing trend in phosphorus and nitrogen contents from the south and north to the lake centre, which is related to the distribution pattern of local economic production. The burial rates of the various phosphorus and nitrogen forms increased in same spatially and over time. Particularly in the past two decades, the burial rates doubled, with that TN reached to 1.287 mg/(cm2·yr) in 2014. As the most reactive forms, nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) and ammonia nitrogen (NH4-N) were buried more rapidly in the south region, implying that the potential for releasing sedimentary nitrogen increased from north to south. Based on their concentrations and burial rates, the internal loads of phosphorus and nitrogen were analysed for the last century. A TP pool of 71 597.6 t and a TN pool of 81 191.7 t were estimated for Dianchi Lake. Bioavailable phosphorus and nitrogen pools were also estimated at 44 468.0 t and 5429.7 t, respectively, for the last century.
Sea ice thickness is one of the most important input parameters in the studies on sea ice disaster prevention and mitigation. It is also the most important content in remote sensing monitoring of sea ice. In this study, a practical model of sea ice thickness (PMSIT) was proposed based on the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. In the proposed model, the MODIS data of the first band were used to estimate sea ice thickness and the difference between the second-band reflectance and the fifth-band reflectance in the MODIS data was calculated to obtain the difference attenuation index (DAI) of each pixel. The obtained DAI was used to estimate the integrated attenuation coefficient of the first band of the MODIS at the pixel level. Then the model was used to estimate sea ice thickness in the Bohai Sea with the MODIS data and then validated with the actual sea ice survey data. The validation results showed that the proposed model and corresponding parameterization scheme could largely avoid the estimation error of sea ice thickness caused by the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of sea ice extinction and allowed the error of 18.7% compared with the measured sea ice thickness.
Implementation of payments for watershed services (PWS) has been regarded as a promising approach to coordinating the interests of upstream and downstream ecosystem services stakeholders. There is growing concern about whether PWS programs have achieved their original environmental goals of improving water quality and quantity, as well as the ancillary objective of increasing the welfare of local people. We start with an overview of PWS schemes and focus on their particularity and implementation mechanisms in China. We proceed to review 62 active PWS cases and examine their environmental performance in detail. The resulting findings show that PWS schemes have been able to reduce water pollution to some extent by establishing collaborative upstream/downstream watershed management policies, thereby improving water quality and quantity, as well as by making government officials more responsible for water resource management. In addition, their continued effectiveness in light of present challenges such as water-quality data availability is discussed. Chinese PWS schemes and their implementation mechanisms also provide information useful in monitoring environmental outcomes and guiding future designs of PWS programs in other regions.
Ecological migration is the process of increasing the population density in the immigration area and transferring the ecological pressure from emigration area to immigration area. This process may result in significant changes in land use and land cover in the area of immigration and have an important effect on ecosystem services. Therefore, scientifically revealing the effects and differentiation mechanisms of ecological migration on ecosystem services is becoming an important issue related to the implementation of the national ecological migration strategy in China. This study employed the Hongsibu District as a typical example of ecological migration. Hongsibu District is located in the central Ningxia steppe and desert steppe areas. Remote sensing data covering five periods from the period before ecological migration in 1995 and after migration in 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015 was used to measure the value of ecosystem services (ESV). A geographical detector model and the value of ecosystem services model were used to diagnose the dynamic mechanism of the effects of land use change on ecosystem services. The results showed that:1) The development of large-scale ecological resettlement has caused the area of cultivated land and urbanized land area to increase significantly in the area of immigration, while the grass area decreased significantly. 2) The overall value of the Hongsibu ecosystem services increased in a form of a ‘V’. Among them, during the period of 1995-2005, the overall ESV decreased and had an annual rate of change of -0.67%. During the period of development 2005-2015, the ESV increased steadily, with an annual rate of change of 0.79%. 3) The proportion and total ESV in soil formation and protection, waste treatment, and biodiversity conservation of the Hongsibu District decreased from 57.61% in 1995 to 56.17% in 2015, indicating that the region's ecological regulation function slightly decreased. 4) The ESV in the Hongsibu District, showed a low distribution pattern of ecosystem services increasing from northeast to southwest, and the capacity of three townships, Hongsibu, Taiyangshan, and Liuquan, to provide ecosystem services gradually declined over time. The ecological service function of Xinzhuangji Township and Dahe Township gradually improved. 5) The sensitivity index of the ESV of each land use type was less than 1, indicating that the environment lacks flexibility in providing a strong ESV index in Hongsibu, which shows that the research results are reliable and believable. 6) During the study period, the decisive force of the change of land use on ecosystem services in Hongsibu District was:grassland (0.9934), climate regulation (0.9413), soil formation and protection (0.9321) and waste treatment (0.9241).
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