Water and Ecological Security at the Heart of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt

  • Yaning ChenEmail author
  • Zhi Li
  • Gonghuan Fang
  • Wei Bian


Many countries along the Silk Road economic belt are in the arid climate zone, which are typically rich in natural resources but very fragile in their ecological environment. This chapter presents the recent research progress on regional water security and ecosystem stability in Central Asia, the heart of the Silk Road economic belt. Due to climate changes, the solid-state water resources (i.e., glacier and snow) have retreated, leading to an overall decrease of solid water storage and a higher uncertainty of water system. Additionally, because of climate changes and anthropogenic activities (e.g. unplanned over-expansion of agricultural area), this region is facing various eco-environmental problems such as intensified drought and deterioration of ecological systems. Future water resources and possible ecological responses deserve further studies in order to provide a healthy ecological environment for building the Silk Road.


Climate changes Glacier retreats Terrestrial water storage Ecological problems Management strategies Central Asia Silk road 



The research is supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA19030204) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41630859).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis EcologyXinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina

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