According to the latest Bulletin on Desertification in China, desertification land in China accounts for 27.20% of the country’s total land area. Therefore, determining the status of desertification research in China is a top priority.
Recently. Prof. HU Yunfeng’s team at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences used the Normalized Comprehensive Hotspots Index (NCH) to determine the spatial distribution of hotspots for desertification research based on the number of Chinese articles.
The results, published in the Journal of Resources and Ecology, indicated that the number of desertification studies in China has shown a general downward trend.
In contrast to traditional bibliometric methods that rely on human knowledge and expert experience to summarize literature knowledge, this research worked on improving accuracy, efficiency and credibility of efforts to assemble literature knowledge.
The core of this research method is the supervision mechanism, which is based on Java language to achieve an intelligent extraction of information from documents. The researchers input keywords, and the machine searched, relying mainly on word segmentation and toponym matching to produce results.
Unlike standardized comprehensive hot region indexes proposed before, the researchers added calculation of the NCH index and analyzed the dynamic changes of research hotspots by calculating the slope of desertification research hotspots during 1980-2018 in China. The use of the NCH index ensured that the results produced by this research were highly consistent with the traditional understanding of the spatial distribution pattern
This study found that the hotspots for China’s desertification research from the 1980s through 2018 were largely distributed in five regions, i.e., the desert and desertification areas in Hulun Buir of Inner Mongolia (including Hulun Buir Sandy Land, Mu Us Sandy Land, Kubuqi Desert, Hunshandake Sandy Land, Horqin Sandy Land, etc.), the desertification zone of Qaidam Basin in the western alpine zone, the central Tarim Basin the area extending to the foothills of the Kunlun Mountains, and the south foothills of the Altai Mountains with the sporadic areas around the Tianshan Mountains.
Among these regions, the Agro-Pastoral Ecotone in the middle and eastern parts of Inner Mongolia contained the most prominent hotspots for the study of desertification.
The method used to identify hotspots in this study can be applied in much the same way to other research fields.
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