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Located in the far outback of the Eurasian continent, China’s Xinjiang is a typical arid region with a fragile ecological environment and system, sensitive to climate change. Recent study on the variation of agricultural water demand (AWD) and its attributions of the Tarim River Basin shows that AWD increases at high rate under climate change.

Through analysis on the observation data of 24 state meteorological stations from 1960 to 2015, CHEN Yaning and his team with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography found that AWD decreased during 1960–1988 at a rate of 2.76 mm/year and then started to increase at a high rate of 9.47 mm/year during 1989–2015 in the extreme arid region of the Tarim River Basin.“For the first period (1960–1988), wind speed, maximum humidity and sunshine duration were the most important factors leading to decreased AWD, while for the second period the evolution of planting structure was the most significant factor resulting in the rapid increase of AWD, followed by the minimum temperature, wind speed and maximum humidity. The evolution of planting structure alone would lead to an increase rate for AWD of 7.1 mm/year while the climatic factor would result in an increase rate of 1.9 mm/year during 1989–2015,” said CHEN.

Agricultural water use accounts for more than 95% of the total water consumption in the extreme arid region of Tarim River Basin. Understanding the variation of agricultural water demand (AWD) and its attributions is therefore vital for irrigation management and water resource allocation affecting the economy and natural ecosystems in this high water-deficit region.

The research has been published on The Journal of Agricultural Sciences, entitled “Variation of agricultural water demand and its attributions in the arid Tarim River Basion”.

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