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FU Cong\|bin 1, AN Zi\|shen 2 (1 Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China; 2 Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710075, China)  
In recent several decades, the global environmental change has become a critical issue concerned by world society. China is also facing a series of environmental problems related to global change. Among them, the most serious one is the aridification in Northern China as shown by the reduction of precipitation, lifting of snow line, cutoff of river flow, shrinking of lake, desertification of the land and the degradation of ecosystems, etc. These problems have become the most serious obstacles for the development of national economy.What are the main causes of the aridification? What a role the human activities play in the aridifcation? What will be the trend of its future development? What are the impacts of aridifcation on the life\|supporting environment and the sustainable development of social economy? These are the great concern of the government and people.This article first analyzed the nature of the aridification problem and then identified the key scientific issues and research topics in order to answer the questions put forward by the society. The major part of the text introduced briefly the recent progress in the study of Northern China aridification under the support of National Key Basic Research Program, including the rule of dry and wet oscillation and the new and more evidences of the aridification in Northern China, the potential impacts of global warming and human activities ( mainly the land use and water resources) on the aridification, the response and adaptation of the major ecosystems to the arid climate and finally the results of virtual experiments to show how to organize the orderly human activities to improve the environmental conditions and to reduce the impacts of aridification.
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