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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2020)

Modelling land use and land cover change on the Mongolian Plateau


Titre : Modelling land use and land cover change on the Mongolian Plateau

Auteur : Batunacun

Université de soutenance : Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Grade : Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. nat.) 2020

The aims of this thesis are to gain an integrated and systematic understanding of the processes and determinants of land degradation on the Mongolian Plateau. Xilingol was chosen as a suitable example, mainly since it is covered by vast grassland, and has experienced almost all ecological policies that have been implemented in China. Two distinct phases were identified in this region : 1975-2000 and 2000-2015. During the first phase (up to 2000), land degradation was the dominant land use change process, accounting for 11.4% of the total area. During this phase, human disturbance was the major driver in eight counties, whereas the water condition was the dominant driver in six counties. During the second phase (post-2000), land restoration increased (12.0% of the total area), whereas degradation continued, resulting in a further 9.5% of degraded land. During this phase, urbanisation became the dominant driver of land degradation in seven counties, while effects resulting from human disturbance and water availability decreased after 2000. After identifying the major drivers of degradation, the complex relationships between drivers and grassland degradation were captured. The results indicated that the distance to dense, moderately dense grass and sparse grass and sheep density were responsible for the grassland degradation dynamics. In this thesis, a clustering method, partial order theory and Hasse diagram techniques were first used to identify the major drivers of land degradation at the county level. Subsequently, an approach from machine learning, XGBoost (eXtreme Gradient Boosting), was used to predict the dynamics of grassland degradation. Moreover, SHAP (SHapley Additive exPlanations) values were used to open up the black box model, and the primary driver was extracted for each pixel showing degradation.


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