Chinese Geographical Science ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (2): 248-260.doi: 10.1007/s11769-021-1188-6

• Articles • Previous Articles    

Spatiotemporal Trends and Ecological Determinants in Population by Elevation in China Since 1990

MA Chaoqun1, HE Yanfen2   

  1. 1. College of Earth Science and Resources, Chang’an University, Xi’an 710054, China;
    2. Yellow River Institute of Shaanxi Province, College of Urban and Environment Sciences, Northwest University, Xi’an 710127, China
  • Received:2020-08-20 Published:2021-02-06
  • Contact: HE Yanfen
  • Supported by:
    Under the auspices of National Key R&D Projects (No. 2017YFC0504705), the Western and Frontier Youth Project of Ministry of Education Humanities and Social Sciences (No. 12XJC840001)

Abstract: It is very important to understand the ecological and socio-economic factors in population distribution and their changes over time for the compilation of regional development planning and the guidance of rational population flow. Using surface-based population data for China from 1990 to 2015, the national distribution and dynamics of the human population by elevation are quantified based on 1-km cell-size gridded distribution datasets and 1-km cell-size DEM (digital elevation model). A geographical detector model is used to quantitatively analyze the dominant role of natural geographical factors, such as topography and climate, on the spatial distribution of population. Results show that: 1) the population size and density decrease rapidly with elevation below 1000 m above the sea level, and the gap in population density between low-altitude areas and high-altitude areas increases with time because of the continuous growth of population density in low-altitude areas; 2) the distribution of the population can be divided into five steps according to integrated population density (IPD), in proportions of 43∶35∶21∶1∶0, and that these proportions have remained stable over the last 25 yr; 3) the basic pattern of population spatial distribution is determined by natural geographical environment factors, such as topography, climate, geomorphology, and their interactions; and 4) the development of society and the economy are the driving forces for the dynamic change in the population distribution during the study period, with the distribution pattern and dynamics of population by altitude in China providing a comprehensive reflection of various geographical elements on different spatial scales.

Key words: population distribution, vertical distribution, hypsographic demography, geographical detector model, China