Loess Plateau

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Loess Plateau


a natural region in China, in the middle part of the Huangho basin. It is bounded in the south by the Ch’inling Range, in the east by the T’aihang Shan, in the north by the Ordos Desert, in the northwest by the Ala Shan Desert, and in the west by the eastern spurs of the Kunlun. Area, about 430,000 sq km; prevailing altitudes, 1,200–1,500 m. Within the Loess Plateau there are individual ranges (Luip’an Shan, Luiliang Shan, Wut’ai Shan), whose crests in places reach 2,500 m and more.

In geological terms the Loess Plateau is a basin filled with a thick layer of Mesozoic deposits overlain by loess. The thickness of the loess usually varies from 100 to 200 m, increasing in the north to 250 m. The friable series of loess are subject to intense erosion. In certain regions the network of ravines reaches 5–6 km per sq km, with a depth of 100–150 m. In the north there is a predominance of loess ridges and spurs extending in the direction of the prevailing winds and with an overall depth of up to 300–400 m. In the south, flat and rolling plateaus cut by ravines have developed.

The climate is temperate with dry cold winters and hot summers. The average January temperature is from— 8°C in the north to— 4°C in the south, and for July from 22°C in the north to 24°C in the south. Precipitation totals from 500 mm per year in the east to 250 mm in the northwest. Most of it falls during the summer monsoon (July to September), usually as downpours that further the development of erosion.

The rivers often flow in deep gorges and carry an enormous amount of detritus. The annual volume of solid drainage in the Huangho below the Loess Plateau exceeds 1.3 billion tons. The soils on the loess are characterized by high fertility, but in their majority they are eroded. Natural vegetation—forest steppe in the southeast and arid steppe in the northwest—has survived only in places unsuitable for agriculture. The entire surface has been plowed up, and loess slopes up to 1,000 m in elevation and more have been artificially terraced. Cotton, millet, kaoliang, and wheat are grown. There are deposits of hard coal, iron ore, oil, combustible shale, gypsum, and salt. The Loess Plateau (particularly the Wei River valley) is densely populated. The major cities are Hsian, T’aiyüan, and Lanchou.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In the Loess Plateau, due to water shortage, jujube forests are usually cultivated sparsely with low canopy cover (0.8 and for MAE is <20%.
The bones come from a Neolithic site known as Dadiwan, in China's western Loess Plateau, excavated first by a Chinese team in the late 70s and early 80s, and in 2006 by a team from the University of California, Davis, and Lanzhou University in China.
Low SOM and poor soil water conservation are 2 of the major causes of poor yield on the Loess Plateau of China (Zhu 1984; Zhang et al.
Deforestation over thousands of years, steep slopes, and highly erodible soils combined with intense summer monsoon rainfall has seen an incredible amount of soil erosion from the Loess Plateau, located on the middle reaches of the Yellow River.
The Loess Plateau in Shaanxi is honeycombed with caves.
After a few years (1866-1872) of investigation in the Loess Plateau of China, Richthoffen attributed the thick loess deposition to the wind erosion of the sandy deserts and gobi deserts to the northwest (Pye and Tsoar 1990).
The Loess Plateau, characterised by a hilly and gully landscape with powdery dry soil, covers 640 000 [km.sup.2] in north-west China.
Wei, "Fractal features of soil particle size distribution in layered sediments behind two check dams: Implications for the Loess Plateau, China," Geomorphology, vol.
Loess Plateau is mainly located in the arid and semiarid area of China with a fragile ecological environment (Figure 1).
In order to provide scientific and technological guide for efficient and sustainable agroforestry management, spatial distribution and morphological variation of fine root in a walnut-soybean intercropping system were examined using stratified excavation method in the Loess Plateau of western Shanxi Province, China.
local time were close to daily means in subtropical forest ecosystem in southern China and in cropland ecosystem on the Loess Plateau in northern China.