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Study Reveals the Mechanism of Coupled Development of Water-Energy-Carbon Emissions System for Crop Production in the Tarim River Basin


Agriculture plays an important role in the socioeconomic development of the Tarim River Basin. With the expansion of agricultural planting area, the demand for agricultural water and energy consumption increases rapidly. However, the high proportion of agricultural energy input, on the one hand, promoted the surge of food production, but also led to the agricultural carbon emissions under great pressure, further aggravated the contradiction between water, energy and carbon emissions of agricultural system, and seriously threatened the regional sustainable development.

To address the above issues, the research team of Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, based on meteorological, statistical and survey data, establishes the WEC nexus framework in crop production, and quantitatively evaluates the change trend of crop total water consumption, energy indices, and carbon footprint in the Tarim River Basin by using the footprint and nexus approach, and the coupling coordination development level of the WEC system is revealed.

The results indicated that: The TRB is dominated by blue water irrigation resources, which account for 90% of total water consumption (AWC). There was an overall trend of increasing energy inputs per hectare for major crops in the TRB during 1990-2019. Meanwhile, carbon footprint (CF) exhibited obvious spatial differences at the basin scale. Kizilsu Kirghiz had the lowest average CF, at 0.79 kgCO2_eq·kg-1. The coupling degree of the WEC system in the study area is greater than 0.8, maintaining high-level coupling. The coupling coordination degree of Kizilsu Kirghiz had a clear upward trend and was stable at high levels during 2009-2019. The results of this study are of great value for improving energy utilization efficiency, promoting the low-carbon transition of crop production, and realizing the coordinated development of WEC system.

The related results are published in Journal of Cleaner Production, entitled “Water-energy-carbon emissions nexus analysis of crop production in the Tarim river basin, Northwest China”. This research is funded by the International Cooperation Program of the Chinese Academy Sciences and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Article link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652623007242 

Fig. 1. Research system boundary for the CF of crop production

Fig. 2. Variations in the coupling degree (a) and coupling coordination degree (b) of the WEC system in the TRB during 1990-2019