Climate Change Research ›› 2017, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (5): 483-493.doi: 10.12006/j.issn.1673-1719.2017.004

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Influence of Climate Change and Human Activity on Water Resources in Arid Region of Northwest China:An Overview

Wang Yujie1,2, Qin Dahe3   

  1. 1 School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China;
    2 Northwest Regional Climate Center, Lanzhou 730020, China;
    3 China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2017-01-09 Revised:2017-04-23 Online:2017-09-30 Published:2017-09-30


This study reviews the latest progress in research on climate change and water resources in the arid area of Northwest China, analyzes the cause of water resource changes within the region from the perspective of climate change and human activities, and summarizes future likely changes in water resources and associated adaptation strategies. The research shows that the climate in the region has experienced warming and wetting with the most significant warming in winter and the highest increase of precipitation in summer since 1961. Areas with the most significant warming trends include the Qaidam Basin, the Yili River Valley, Tacheng city. Spatially, the increasing trend in precipitation becomes increasingly significant from the southeast to the northwest and northern Xinjiang experienced the highest increase. Studies have shown a decrease in headwater of Shiyang River because runoff is mainly based on precipitation with a decrease trend. But an increase in western rivers was observed such Tarim River and Shule River as well as Heihe River due to rapid glacier shrinkage and snowmelt as well as precipitation increase in mountain area. Meanwhile unreasonable human activities resulted in decrease of runoff in the middle and lower reaches of Haihe River, Shiyang River and Kaidu River. Finally, recommendations for future studies are suggested that include characteristics of changes in extreme weather events and their impacts on water resources, projections of future climate and water resource changes, climate change attribution, the selection of adaptation strategies relating to climate change and social economic activities, and use of scientific methods to quantitatively determine water resource allocation.

Key words: arid region of Northwest China, climate change, water resource, human activity, adaption strategy

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