Pronounced variability in the landscapes of the upper Yellow River basin reflects complex inter-relationships between tectonics, climate and surficial processes over time. While the process of landscape classification necessarily involves assumptions and the simplification of reality, it still provides a useful organizational framework within which the nature and controls upon these relationships can be examined. This paper groups the landscapes of the Yellow River source zone into 10 primary classes through GIS analysis of global SRTM 90 m DEM. Landscapes of this region range from the high-elevation, low-relief plains of the upper plateau, through the narrow high-relief valleys of the Anyemaqen Shan (Mountains) in the central basin, to the dramatically incised landscapes within the Tongde and Gonghe sedimentary basins at the downstream end of the study area. A description of each of the landscape classes is presented and the interplay between tectonics, climate and surficial processes over time is examined. The importance of placing the landscapes into the context of the evolutionary history of the Yellow River source zone is emphasized, in particular the evolution of the drainage system and its influence upon present landscape dynamics.
- landscape classification
- Yellow River