Mitigating Climate Change Impacts for Optimizing Water Productivity

Reference work entry
Part of the Ecohydrology book series (ECOH)


In ecologically fragile areas with arid climate, such as the Heihe River Basin in Northwest China, sustainable social and economic development depends largely on the availability and sustainable uses of water resource. However, under the influence of the rapidly changing climate and human activities, the Heihe River Basin undergoes serious water shortage and water productivity decline. In this chapter we adopted a semi-distributed conceptual hydrological model (SWAT – Soil Water Assessment Tool) coupled with a glacier melting algorithm to investigate the sensitivity of streamflow to climatic and glacial changes in the upstream of the Heihe River Basin. The glacier mass balance was calculated at daily time-step using a distributed temperature-index melting and accumulation algorithm embedded in the SWAT model. Specifically, the model was calibrated and validated using daily streamflow data measured at Yingluoxia Hydrological Station and decadal ice volume changes derived from survey maps and remote sensing images between 1960 and 2010. This study highlights the effects of glacier melting on streamflow and their future changes in the mountainous watersheds. Further, we used improved CGE model to analyze the difference and change between different industries in middle stream of the Heihe River Basin. Simulation results indicate that industrial transformation and development of water-saving industries will also improve water productivity. Lastly, we put forward some strategies on how to mitigate climate change impacts for optimizing water productivity from three perspectives: (1) scientific research needed by scientists, (2) management and institution formulation needed by governments, and (3) water resource optimal allocation by the manager at all administrative levels.


Water productivity Climate change Water yield Sustainable development Streamflow simulation Water balance Glacier melting Snowmelt SWAT CGE model Heihe River Basin 


  1. J. Alcamo, M. Flörke, M. Märker, Future long-term changes in global water resources driven by socio-economic and climatic changes. Hydrol. Sci. J. 52, 247–275 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. K. Bakker, Water security: Research challenges and opportunities. Science 337, 914–915 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. C. Bao, C.l. Fang, Water resources constraint force on urbanization in water deficient regions: A case study of the Hexi Corridor, arid area of NW China. Ecol. Econ. 62, 508–517 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. B. Bates, Z. Kundzewicz, S. Wu, J. Palutikof, Climate Change and Water, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2008)Google Scholar
  5. M. Berrittella, K. Rehdanz, R.S. Tol, The Economic Impact of the South-North Water Transfer Project in China: A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis (Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), Milano, 2006)Google Scholar
  6. L. Bracken, E. Oughton, Interdisciplinarity within and beyond geography: Introduction to special section. Area 41, 371–373 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. P. Cardei, V. Herea, V. Muraru, R. Sfaru, Vector representation for the soil erosion model USLE, a point of view. Bulletin of University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca. Agriculture 66, 46–53 (2009)Google Scholar
  8. C.R. Castillo, I. Güneralp, B. Güneralp, Influence of changes in developed land and precipitation on hydrology of a coastal Texas watershed. Appl. Geogr. 47, 154–167 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. I.P.O.C. Change, Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Agenda 6, 333 (2007)Google Scholar
  10. G. Cheng, H. Xiao, C. Li, J. Ren, S. Wang, Water saving eco-agriculture and integrated water resources management in the Heihe River Basin, northwest China. Adv. Earth Sci. 23, 661–665 (2008)Google Scholar
  11. G. Cheng, X. Li, W. Zhao, Z. Xu, Q. Feng, S. Xiao, H. Xiao, Integrated study of the water–ecosystem–economy in the Heihe River Basin. Natl. Sci. Rev. 1, 413–428 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. X. Deng, Y. Wang, F. Wu, T. Zhang, Z. Li, The integrated CGE model construction, in Integrated River Basin Management (Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, 2014a), pp. 57–78Google Scholar
  13. X. Deng, F. Zhang, Z. Wang, X. Li, T. Zhang, An extended input output table. Compiled for analyzing water demand and consumption at county level in China. Sustainability 6, 3301–3320 (2014b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. R. Ding, F.-c. Wang, J. Wang, J.-n. Liang, Analysis on spatial-temporal characteristics of precipitation in Heihe River Basin and forecast evaluation in recent 47 years. J. Desert Res. 29, 335–341 (2009)Google Scholar
  15. C.-l. Fang, C. Bao, J.c. Huang, Management implications to water resources constraint force on socio-economic system in rapid urbanization: A case study of the Hexi Corridor, NW China. Water Resour. Manag. 21, 1613–1633 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. S. Feng, L.X. Li, Z.G. Duan, J.L. Zhang, Assessing the impacts of south-to-north water transfer project with decision support systems. Decis. Support. Syst. 42, 1989–2003 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. T. Fontaine, T. Cruickshank, J. Arnold, R. Hotchkiss, Development of a snowfall–snowmelt routine for mountainous terrain for the soil water assessment tool (SWAT). J. Hydrol. 262, 209–223 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. S. Giri, A.P. Nejadhashemi, S.A. Woznicki, Evaluation of targeting methods for implementation of best management practices in the Saginaw River Watershed. J. Environ. Manag. 103, 24–40 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. J.W. Glen, The creep of polycrystalline ice. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A Math. Phys. Sci. 228, 519–538 (1955)Google Scholar
  20. Q. Guo, Q. Feng, J. Li, Environmental changes after ecological water conveyance in the lower reaches of Heihe River, northwest China. Environ. Geol. 58, 1387–1396 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. GWP, Integrated Water Resources Management (Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), 2004)Google Scholar
  22. W. Hagg, L. Braun, M. Kuhn, T. Nesgaard, Modelling of hydrological response to climate change in glacierized central Asian catchments. J. Hydrol. 332, 40–53 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. R. Hock, Temperature index melt modelling in mountain areas. J. Hydrol. 282, 104–115 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. M. Howells, S. Hermann, M. Welsch, M. Bazilian, R. Segerström, T. Alfstad, D. Gielen, H. Rogner, G. Fischer, H. van Velthuizen, Integrated analysis of climate change, land-use, energy and water strategies. Nat. Clim. Chang. 3, 621–626 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. M. Huss, A. Bauder, M. Funk, R. Hock, Determination of the seasonal mass balance of four Alpine glaciers since 1865. J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf. (2003–2012) 113 (2008a)Google Scholar
  26. M. Huss, D. Farinotti, A. Bauder, M. Funk, Modelling runoff from highly glacierized alpine drainage basins in a changing climate. Hydrol. Process. 22, 3888–3902 (2008b)Google Scholar
  27. W. Immerzeel, P. Kraaijenbrink, J. Shea, A. Shrestha, F. Pellicciotti, M. Bierkens, S. De Jong, High-resolution monitoring of Himalayan glacier dynamics using unmanned aerial vehicles. Remote Sens. Environ. 150, 93–103 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. J. Kim, J. Choi, C. Choi, S. Park, Impacts of changes in climate and land use/land cover under IPCC RCP scenarios on streamflow in the Hoeya River Basin, Korea. Sci. Total Environ. 452, 181–195 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. M. Kummu, P.J. Ward, H. de Moel, O. Varis, Is physical water scarcity a new phenomenon? Global assessment of water shortage over the last two millennia. Environ. Res. Lett. 5, 034006 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. X. Li, X. Yang, Q. Gao, Y. Li, S. Dong, Integrative assessment of hydrological, ecological, and economic systems for water resources management at river basin scale. Front. Earth Sci. China 3, 198–207 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. X. Li, G. Cheng, L. Wu, Digital Heihe River Basin. 1: an information infrastructure for the watershed science. Adv. Earth Sci. 25, 297–305 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Y. Luo, J. Arnold, S. Liu, X. Wang, X. Chen, Inclusion of glacier processes for distributed hydrological modeling at basin scale with application to a watershed in Tianshan Mountains, northwest China. J. Hydrol. 477, 72–85 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. F. Martin-Carrasco, L. Garrote, A. Iglesias, L. Mediero, Diagnosing causes of water scarcity in complex water resources systems and identifying risk management actions. Water Resour. Manag. 27, 1693–1705 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. B. Mitchell, Integrated water resource management, institutional arrangements, and land-use planning. Environ Plan A 37, 1335 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. J. Nye, The flow of a glacier in a channel of rectangular, elliptic or parabolic cross-section. J. Glaciol. 5, 661–690 (1965)Google Scholar
  36. S. Neitsch, J. Arnold, J. Kiniry, J. Williams, K. King, Soil and Water Assessment Tool: Theoretical Documentation, Version 2005 (Texas, 2005)Google Scholar
  37. J.J. Pigram, Economic instruments in the management of Australia’s water resources: a critical view. Int. J. Water Resour. Dev. 15, 493–509 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. S.M. Pradhanang, A. Anandhi, R. Mukundan, M.S. Zion, D.C. Pierson, E.M. Schneiderman, A. Matonse, A. Frei, Application of SWAT model to assess snowpack development and streamflow in the Cannonsville watershed, New York, USA. Hydrol. Process. 25, 3268–3277 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. S.-Z. Qi, F. Luo, Water environmental degradation of the Heihe River Basin in arid northwestern China. Environ. Monit. Assess. 108, 205–215 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. F.R. Rijsberman, Water scarcity: fact or fiction? Agric. Water Manag. 80, 5–22 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. T. Thorsteinsson, T. Jóhannesson, Á. Snorrason, Glaciers and ice caps: vulnerable water resources in a warming climate. Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain. 5, 590–598 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. C. Tortajada, Institutions for integrated water resources management in Latin America: lessons for Asia, in Integrated Water Resources Management in South and South-East Asia (Oxfor University Press, New Delhi, 2005). pp. 297–319Google Scholar
  43. D. Viviroli, R. Weingartner, The hydrological significance of mountains: from regional to global scale. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. 8, 1017–1030 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. C.J. Vörösmarty, P. Green, J. Salisbury, R.B. Lammers, Global water resources: vulnerability from climate change and population growth. Science 289, 284–288 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Y. Wang, H. Xiao, J. Ren, M. Lu, Study on water resources utilization in Zhangye city based on CGE model. Arid Zone Res. 1, 28–34 (2008) (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  46. Y. Wang, H.-l. Xiao, R.-f. Wang, Water scarcity and water use in economic systems in Zhangye City, northwestern China. Water Resour. Manag. 23, 2655–2668 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. J. Warner, P. Wester, A. Bolding, Going with the flow: river basins as the natural units for water management. Water Policy 10, 121–138 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. G.F. White, A perspective of river basin development. Law Contemp. Probl., 157–187 (1957)Google Scholar
  49. F. Wu, J. Zhan, C. Shi, C. Zhao, An extended input–output table. For environmental and resources accounting. Chinese J. Popul. Resour. Environ. 12, 33–41 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. F. Wu, J. Zhan, Z. Wang, Q. Zhang, Streamflow variation due to glacier melting and climate change in upstream Heihe River Basin, Northwest China. Phys. Chem. Earth Parts A B C 79, 11–19 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. H. Xi, Q. Feng, W. Liu, J. Si, Z. Chang, Y. Su, The research of groundwater flow model in Ejina Basin, northwestern China. Environ. Earth Sci. 60, 953–963 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Z. Yin, H. Xiao, S. Zou, R. Zhu, Z. Lu, Y. Lan, Y. Shen, Simulation of hydrological processes of mountainous watersheds in inland river basins: taking the Heihe Mainstream River as an example. J. Arid. Land 6, 16–26 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. L. Yu, H. Jikun, W. Jinxia, S. Rozelle, Determinants of agricultural water saving technology adoption: an empirical study of 10 provinces of China. Ecol. Econ. 4, 462–472 (2008)Google Scholar
  54. J. Zhan, Z. Sun, Z. Wang, J. Chen, Z. Li, Simulated water productivity in Gansu Province, China. Phys. Chem. Earth Parts A B C 79–82, 67–75 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Y. Zhao, X. Deng, Q. Lu, W. Huang, Regional rural development, nitrogen input and output in farming-grazing system and its environmental impacts—a case study of the Wuliangsuhai catchment. Procedia Environ Sci 2, 542–556 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Z. Zheng, J. Liu, P. Koeneman, E. Zarate, A. Hoekstra, Assessing water footprint at river basin level: a case study for the Heihe River Basin in northwest China. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 16, 2771–2781 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. H. Zhou, X. Zhang, H. Xu, H. Ling, P. Yu, Influences of climate change and human activities on Tarim River runoffs in China over the past half century. Environ. Earth Sci. 67, 231–241 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EnvironmentBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Center for Chinese Agricultural PolicyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of GeographyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  5. 5.Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm ManagementFederal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB)AbeokutaNigeria

Personalised recommendations