Chinese Geographical Science

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 151–165 | Cite as

Remote Sensing Monitoring of Surface Characteristics in the Badain Jaran, Tengger, and Ulan Buh Deserts of China

  • Qingsheng LiuEmail author
  • Gaohuan Liu
  • Chong Huang
  • He Li


Deserts and sandy land in northern China are very susceptible to sandy desertification and are the main source of sand-dust storms of Asian dust. However, because of the complex factors involved, descriptions of the relationship between sandy desertification and surface characteristics in these regions are lacking. We monitored the surface characteristics and their changes in time using information about soil, vegetation, and landforms in the Badain Jaran Desert (BJD), Tengger Desert (TD), and Ulan Buh Desert (UBD) in the northern China. The monitoring was done using tasseled cap angle (TCA), disturbance index (DI), and topsoil grain size index (TGSI) from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images combined with a decision tree classification. Results showed that the TD had higher topsoil fine sand content, and the ratio of non-vegetated to vegetated areas was similar with that in the UBD. Northeast-southwest coarse sand dunes with thin interdune (NECTI) dominated the BD, fine sand dunes (FSD) dominated the TD, and a combination of northeast-southwest coarse sand dunes with wide interdune (NECWI) and northwest-southeast coarse sand dunes with wide interdune (NWCWI) dominated the UBD. From 2000 to 2015, in the BJD the area of the NECTI, non-sand dune (Non) and potential sand sources (PSS) increased, whereas the area of the NECWI, FSD and NWCWI decreased, indicating a improve process in the BJD. In the TD, the area covered by Non increased, whereas the area covered by PSS, NECWI, NECTI, FSD, and NWCWI decreased from 2000 to 2015. The area covered by the various surface characteristic types fluctuated annually in the UBD from 2000 to 2015. Changes in surface characteristics reflect the combined effects of natural conditions and human activity. The findings of our study will assist scientists and policy makers in proposing different management techniques to combat sandy desertification for the different surface characteristics of these regions.


surface characteristics MODIS desert tasseled cap angle disturbance index topsoil grain size index 


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The authors would like to thank Miss Zhang Yunjie and Miss Guo Yushan for MODIS MCD43A4 data downloading and mosaicking.


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agricultural Ecology, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingsheng Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gaohuan Liu
    • 1
  • Chong Huang
    • 1
  • He Li
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and ApplicationNanjingChina

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