Monitoring land cover change and its dynamic mechanism on the Qehan Lake Basin, Inner Mongolia, North China, during 1977–2013

  • Xi Chun
  • Mei Yong
  • Jiyao Liu
  • Wenjun Liang


The Qehan Lake Basin is located in the north of the Otindag Sandy Land, where the fragile eco-environment is sensitive to climate change and human activity. We analyzed land cover change and the concomitant processes of ecological change based on multi-spectral scanning (MSS), thematic mapper (TM), and enhanced TM (ETM+) images. The results showed that from 1977 to 2000, the area of dune sand increased significantly by 840.2 km2, while the area of high cover grassland (HCGL), medium cover grassland (MCGL), and low cover grassland (LCGL) reduced by 140.6, 207.3, and 463.3 km2, respectively. Additionally, the area of wetland decreased by 112.9 km2. During the period of 1977 to 2000, the land cover condition index (LCCI) reached a low of 27.7, which indicated serious eco-environmental challenges in the Qehan Lake watershed. However, the process of desertification was reversed, and vegetation cover was gradually restored after 2000. From 2000 to 2013, the area of LCGL increased by 369.2 km2 (13.4%), while the area of dune sand decreased by 560.1 km2 (29.4%). The LCCI improved to reach 29.18 in 2013, demonstrating a significant eco-environmental improvement. Although climate change, human activity, and ecological policies have together determined the scope and extent of desertification in the watershed, the most fundamental factor in the restoration of vegetation was precipitation.


Land use and land cover Arid environment Eco-environment Otindag Sandy Land GIS 



This study was funded by the National Science Foundation of China (No. 41662011 and 41261008) and the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2012CB426508), and Collaborative innovation center for water environmental security of Inner Mongolia Autonomous region (No. XTCX003).


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inner Mongolia Key Laboratory of Mongolian Plateau Environment and Global ChangeInner Mongolia Normal UniversityHohhotChina
  2. 2.Inner Mongolia Repair Engineering Laboratory of Wetland Eco-environment SystemInner Mongolia Normal UniversityHohhotChina
  3. 3.College of Geography ScienceInner Mongolia Normal UniversityHohhotChina

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