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Achievements and Prospects of Environmental Research in the Chinese Loess Plateau

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  • 中国黄土高原の環境史研究の成果と課題
  • チュウゴク オウド コウゲン ノ カンキョウシ ケンキュウ ノ セイカ ト カダイ

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Abstract

This paper discusses trends based on interdisciplinary reviews of research conducted on the environmental history of the Chinese Loess Plateau. It also reveals problems related to the research and indicates the direction of future studies on this topic. Different hypotheses have been established in this field regarding the environmental history of the Loess Plateau. For example, historical geographers have assumed that the artificial destruction of vegetation accelerated soil erosion and led to an increase in the frequency of flooding of the Yellow River, whereas geologists have tried to refute this assumption by claiming that the vegetation decline was caused by the cooling and aridification of the climate. This controversial disagreement on the influence that human activity and climate change had on soil erosion in the case of the Loess Plateau still exists because the scale of both the corresponding types of research in this case differs. To overcome this problem, the present study focuses on landforms as indicators of temporal and spatial scales. Many conventional studies have analyzed the environmental history of the Loess Plateau by assuming that the landform divisions that existed in the past were the same as those existing at present, even though these landform divisions have been changing over time. It is therefore essential to clarify the environmental changes that occurred on the Loess Plateau on the basis of landform developments. Using the viewpoints of landform division and landform development, it is possible to elucidate the influences of human activities and climate changes on soil erosion in the Loess Plateau, which could not be clarified using conventional research methods.

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