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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-364
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 24 Jul 2018

Research article | 24 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Reconstructed natural runoff suggests imbalance in water scarcity between upstream and downstream regions of China's river basins

Xinyao Zhou1, Yonghui Yang1, and Zhuping Sheng2 Xinyao Zhou et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Agricultural Water Resources, Hebei Laboratory of Agricultural Water-Saving, Center for Agricultural Resources Research, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shijiazhuang 050021, China
  • 2Texas A&M Agrilife Research Center, El Paso, Texas 79927, USA

Abstract. The increasing conflicts for water resources appeal for chronological insight into the imbalance water scarcity between upstream and downstream regions. While the changes of water scarcity in whole basins have been widely analysed, the divergent development of water scarcity between upstream and downstream regions received little concern. Here non-anthropologically intervened runoff (natural runoff) was first reconstructed in China's 67 basins for the period 1961–2010 using the Fu–Budyko framework and then systematically evaluated in comparison with the observed data. Divergent changes in water scarcity, including water stress and water shortage, between upstream and downstream regions were analyzed for the period of 1980s–2000s. The results showed that surface water withdrawal rapidly increased from 140.8billionm3 (9% of natural runoff) in 1980s to 189.7billionm3 (14%) in 2000s, with 73% increase occurring in North China (North of the Yangtze River). This led to severe water scarcity of approximately 0.4billion people (29% of population) in 2000s in comparison with only ~0.2billion people (17%) in the 1980s, with all increase of water scarcity-threaten population in North China. Since 1990s, the increase of upstream water withdrawal came along with the decrease of downstream surface water availability in most northern basins, leading to slower increase in upstream water scarcity and faster increase in downstream water scarcity. Even though restrict water management policy restrained upstream surface water withdrawal in some northern basins over latest decade, the effect of such a reduction in upstream surface water withdrawal was too little to stop the continued decline in downstream surface water accessibility. Meanwhile, semi-arid/humid basins are following in the footsteps of arid basins by rapidly increasing upstream surface water withdrawal. The Chinese case study provides an all-round observation of the imbalance upstream–downstream development in water scarcity, as well as the experiences and lessons from different water management strategies.

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Short summary
The increasing conflicts for water resources appeal for chronological insight into the imbalance water scarcity between upstream and downstream regions. This study analyzed the divergent development of water scarcity between upstream and downstream regions in China's 67 basins during 1961–2010 by comparison of observed runoff and natural runoff which was reconstructed using the Fu–Budyko framework. The Chinese case study can provide experiences and lessons for global water resources management.
The increasing conflicts for water resources appeal for chronological insight into the imbalance...
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