The Loess Plateau (zh-stp|s=|t=黃土高原|p=huángtǔ gāoyuán), also known as the Huangtu Plateau, is a
plateauthat covers an area of some 640,000 km² in the upper and middle of China's Yellow Riverand China proper. Loessis the name for the silty sedimentthat has been deposited by wind storms on the plateau over the ages. Loess is a highly erosion-prone soil that is susceptible to the forces of wind and water; in fact, the soil of this region has been called the "most highly erodible soil on earth". [John M. Laflen, "Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming", 2000, CRC Press, 736 pages ISBN 0849323495] The Loess Plateau and its dusty soil cover almost all of Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Gansuprovinces, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and parts of others.
In ancient times, some of the earliest recorded mention of this area is from travel along the
Northern Silk Road. [Susan Whitfield, "Life Along the Silk Road", 2001, University of California Press, 253 pages ISBN 0520232143] In the last part of the first millennium BC, after the explorer Zhang Qian's return to China, the Han Dynastypushed the Xiongnuback and trade and cultural exchange flourished along the Northern Silk Roadthrough the southern Loess Plateau. Goods moving by caravan to the west included gold, rubies, jade, textiles, coral, ivory and art works. In the opposite direction moved bronze weapons, furs, ceramics and cinnamon bark. [ [http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=18006 C.Michael Hogan,"Silk Road, North China", The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham] ]
Historically the Loess Plateau has provided simple yet insulated shelter from the cold winter and hot summer in the region, as homes called "
yaodong" (zh-st|s=窑洞|t=窰洞) were often carved into the loess soil; some families still live in this kind of shelter in modern times. During the Shaanxi Earthquake, nearly a million people were killed as a result of collapsing loess caves. The "yaodong"s that are best-known to the world are perhaps those in Yan'anwhere the Communist Party led by Mao Zedongheadquartered in 1930s. When Edgar Snow, the author of " Red Star Over China", visited Mao and his party, he lived in a " yaodong".
Agriculture and environment
The Loess Plateau was highly fertile and easy to farm in ancient times, which contributed to the development of early Chinese civilization around the Loess Plateau.
deforestationand over-grazing, exacerbated by China's population increase, have resulted in degenerated ecosystems, desertification, and poor local economies.
In 1994 an effort known as the "Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project" was launched to mitigate desertification; limited success has resulted for a portion of the Loess Plateau, where now trees and grass have turned green and farmers are busy in their croplands. A major focus of the Project was to try and guide the people living in the Plateau to use more
sustainableways of living such as keeping goats in pens not being allowed to roam free and erode the soft silty soil found in the plateau. Many trees were planted and nature is now reclaiming a portion of the Loess Plateau. Results have reduced the massive silt loads to the Yellow River by about one percent. [World Bank, "Reengaging in Agricultural Water Management: Challenges and Options", 2006, 218 pages ISBN 0821364987]
The Loess Plateau was formed over long
geologic times, and scientists have derived valuable information about global climate changefrom samples taken from the deep layer of its silty soil.
* [http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200603/11/eng20060311_249692.html People's Daily Online: Loess Plateau Rehabilitation Project]
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Loess Plateau — ▪ plateau, China Chinese (Pinyin) Huangtu Gaoyuan or (Wade Giles romanization) Huang t u Kao yüan highland area in north central China, covering much of Shanxi (Shansi), northern Henan, Shaanxi ( … Universalium
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Loess — is a homogeneous, typically non stratified, porous, friable,slightly coherent, often calcareous, fine grained, silty, pale yellow or buff, windblown (aeolian) sediment. [Richthofen, F. von. 1882. On the mode of origin of the loess. The Geological … Wikipedia
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