Research Interests

Xiaoping Yang's research interests include deserts and their geological and historical changes, especially geomorphology and paleoclimatology during the Late Quaternary. He has been intensively working in the sand seas of northern China, in particular in the Taklamakan Desert, the Badain Jaran Desert, the Kubuqi Desert and in the Hunshandake Sandy Land to better understand the landscape and palaeoclimatic changes in drylands and the interactions between man and the environment.



1988 - 1992: Dr. rer. nat. in Physical Geography (Prof. Jürgen Hövermann), Environmental Geology (Prof. Jürgen Schneider) and Bioclimatology (Prof. Gode Gravenhorst), dissertation supervised by Prof. Jürgen Hövermann, Göttingen University, Germany.

1984-1987: Graduate student studying geomorphology and desertification control under supervision of Prof. Zhu Zhenda (Z. Zhu) in Lanzhou Institute of Desert Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

1980-1984: B. A. in Geography, Shaanxi Normal University, Xian, China.


Feb. 2017 – Present: Professor, School of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University.

2015 – Present: Guest professor, University of Chinese Academy of Science. 

1998 – Feb. 2017: Professor in the Institute of Geology and Geophysics (initially, Institute of Geology), Chinese Academy of Sciences.

2006: Visiting professor in Ain Shams University, Egypt.

2002: Guest docent in the Institute of Geography, University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Professor Xiaoping Yang has been awarded by the Hundred Talent Program of the  CAS for 1998, and is a recipient of the Outstanding Young Scientists Grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (2004). 

Professor Xiaoping Yang has been an active and responsible member on editorial board of highly recognized research and review journals (e.g., Editor, Quaternary Science Reviews) and has served as a guest editor for several special issues of internationally reputable journals as well as co-author for the Chinese university textbook ‘Physical Geography’ (2005).

Professor Xiaoping Yang is Vice President of the IAG/AIG (International Association of Geomorphologists) (2013 - 2017), Vice Chair of the Commission on Geomorphology and Quaternary Geology, Geographical Society of China (2005 – pres).


Humboldt Research Award (2016)

GSA Fellow, Geological Society of America (GSA, 2014)

"Docent with outstanding contributions" by the School of Geosciences, University of the Chinese Academy Sciences (2013)

Farouk El-Baz Award for Desert Research by the GSA (2010).

Moonlight on the Marsh Distinguished Lecturer by The Ohio State University, Columbus (2010).

Huang Jiqing Prize  by Huang Jiqing (formerly written as Huang, T. K., one of the most important initiators of geological studies in China) Foundation (2008). 

COMLAND Award by the International Geographical Union's Commission on Land Degradation and Desertification (COMLAND, 2007). 

"Young Quaternary Scientist" Prize by the Chinese Association for Quaternary Research (2001).

Selected papers 

Yang, X., Scuderi, L.A., Wang, X., Scuderi, L.J., Zhang, D., Li, H., Forman, S., Xu, Q., Wang, R., Huang, W., Yang, S., 2015. Groundwater sapping as the cause of irreversible desertification of Hunshandake Sandy Lands, Inner Mongolia, northern China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 112, 702-706.

Yang, X., Wang, X., Liu, Z., Li, H., Ren, X., Zhang, D., Ma, Z., Rioual, P., Jin X., Scuderi, L., 2013. Initiation and variation of the dune fields in semi-arid northern China - with a special reference to the Hunshandake Sandy Land, Inner Mongolia. Quaternary Science Reviews (QSR), 78, 369-380.

Yang, X., Scuderi, L., Liu, T., Paillou, P., Li, H., Dong, J., Zhu, B., Jiang, W., Jochems, A., Weissmann, G., 2011. Formation of the highest sand dunes on Earth. Geomorphology,135, 108-116.

Yang, X., Scuderi, L., Paillou, P., Liu, Z., Li, H., Ren, X., 2011. Quaternary environmental changes in the drylands of China - A critical review. Quaternary Science Reviews (QSR), 30, 3219-3233.

Yang, X., Scuderi, L.,2010. Hydrological and climatic changes in deserts of China since the Late Pleistocene. Quaternary Research (QR), 73, 1-9.

Yang, X., Ma, N., Dong, J., Zhu, B., Xu, B., Ma, Z., Liu, J., 2010. Recharge to the inter-dune lakes and Holocene climatic changes in the Badain Jaran Desert, western China. Quaternary Research (QR), 73, 10-19.

Yang, X., Zhu, B., White, P., 2007. Provenance of aeolian sediment in the Taklamakan Desert of western China, inferred from REE and major-elemental data. Quaternary International (QI), 175, 71-85.

Yang, X., Preusser, F., Radtke, U., 2006. Late Quaternary environmental changes in the Taklamakan Desert, western China, inferred from OSL-dated lacustrine and aeolian deposits. Quaternary Sciences Reviews (QSR), 25, 923-932.

Yang, X., Rost, K., Lehmkuhl, F., Zhu, Z., Dodson, J., 2004. The evolution of dry lands in northern China and in the Republic of Mongolia since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary International (QI), 118/119, 69-85.

Yang, X., Zhu, Z., Jaekel, D., Owen, L., Han, J., 2002. Late Quaternary palaeoenvironment change and landscape evolution along the Keriya River, Xinjiang, China: the relationship between high mountain glaciation and landscape evolution in foreland desert regions. Quaternary International (QI), 97/98, 155-166.