Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 122, Issue 3–4, pp 557–565 | Cite as

Investigation of changes in water resources and grain production in China: changing patterns and uncertainties

  • Wei Kuang
  • Yunjin HuEmail author
  • Xiangqian Dai
  • Xingyuan Song
Original Paper


Water resources are very important for grain production in China. In this study, we investigate the changes in streamflow and grain production in China from 1956 to 2008. Since the 1980s, the increase of total grain production was mainly contributed by northern China where significantly decreasing precipitation and available water resources were observed. From 1985 to 2008, northern China accounted for 92.9 % of the national total grain production growth. Consequently, the main grain production area has shifted from the south to the north. However, the shift was mismatching the spatial distributions and temporal changes in precipitation and available water resources in China. During 1956 through 2008, precipitation decreased in the main grain production areas of the northern China by 1.23-1.27 mm per year. During the same period, observed streamflows in the five major rivers in northern China decreased by 13.4-92.4 %. Current grain production in northern China is dependent on overexploitation of groundwater. From 1987 to 2000, the average groundwater table declined 10.8 m with a maximum decrease of 34.8 m in North China Plain. Furthermore, the impacts of climate change and projected industrial development exacerbate the uncertainty of grain supply by northern China in the future. This study also indicated the potential of southern China for a more important role in ensuring sustainable food security of China, with increasing precipitation and streamflows observed in the Yangtze River and Pearl River basins.


Water Resource Food Security Sichuan Basin North China Plain Yellow River Basin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Kuang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yunjin Hu
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xiangqian Dai
    • 4
  • Xingyuan Song
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering ScienceWuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.College of Civil EngineeringShaoxing UniversityShaoxingChina
  3. 3.The Water Resources & Survey Bureau of the Changjiang Middle Reaches, Bureau of HydrologyChangjiang Water Resources CommissionWuhanChina
  4. 4.The Development Research Center of the Ministry of Water Resources of People’s Republic of ChinaBeijingChina

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