Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 75 ›› Issue (1): 3-13.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202001001

• Theoretical Exploration •     Next Articles

Understanding geographic coupling and achieving geographic integration

SONG Changqing1,2, CHENG Changxiu1,2,3, YANG Xiaofan1,2, YE Sijing1,2, GAO Peichao1,2   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2. Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    3. Key Laboratory of Environmental Change and Natural Disaster, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2019-04-19 Revised:2019-12-19 Online:2020-01-25 Published:2020-03-25
  • Supported by:
    The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (STEP)(2019QZKK0608);The Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA23100303)


Coupling, as a classic physical concept, provides a suite of ideas and methods for describing interactions of multi-agents across disciplines. In contrast, the concept of integration is not from a certain discipline, but it is widely used in many natural and socioeconomic sciences fields due to its great generalization capacity. Both concepts are frequently mentioned in Earth science. Geography, as a multi-disciplinary research area between natural and socioeconomic sciences, owns regional, comprehensive, and complex characteristics. The understanding of coupling varies across geographic sciences. This paper presents an advanced understanding from six geographic perspectives based on different disciplines and scenarios, which is helpful to accurately explore patterns, processes, and mechanisms of land surface system. Firstly, this paper clarifies six perspectives on geographic coupling, and presents corresponding research cases, which include geographic spatial coupling, geographic features coupling, geographic interfaces coupling, geospatial scale coupling, geographic relationship coupling and geographic coupling interpretation. Secondly, the paper interprets the concept of integration from a geographic perspective, and introduces a pathway to achieving an integration in Heihe River Basin's research practice. Finally, the paper proposes intrinsic connections between geographic coupling and geographic integration.

Key words: geographic coupling, geographic integration, ecological-hydrological processes, Heihe River Basin