Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-558cb97cc8-fjc52 Total loading time: 1.197 Render date: 2022-10-06T21:11:18.719Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": true, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

20 - Future Water Scarcity over the Yellow River Basin and the Effects of Adaptive Measures

from Part III - Sustainable Water Management under Future Uncertainty

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2022

Qiuhong Tang
Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
Guoyong Leng
Oxford University Centre for the Environment
Get access


Water scarcity has become one of the major risks to sustainable development in the Yellow River (YR) basin. This chapter presents a quantitative projection of future water scarcity in the YR basin with the consideration of both climate change and socioeconomic development, and further analysed the effects of adaptive measures (i.e., improvements in water saving techniques and inter-basin water transfer projects) on water scarcity mitigation. Results suggest that water scarcity in the YR basin would be considerably aggravated by an increase in water demand, and water stress index (WSI) and water deficit increase by 57 and 200 per cent in 2010–2050, respectively. The application of improved water saving techniques might contribute to mitigate about 35 and 53 per cent of the WSI and water deficit in 2050, respectively. Inter-basin water transfer projects are expected to reduce water scarcity in the YR basin by decreasing WSI by 16 per cent and water deficit by 19 per cent in 2050. This chapter contributes to the literature on water scarcity in the YR basin under global change and provides recommendations for future water management and sustainable development.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Alcamo, J., Flörke, M., & Märker, M. (2007). Future long-term changes in global water resources driven by socio-economic and climatic changes. Hydrological Sciences Journal 52(2): 247275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barnett, J., Rogers, S., Webber, M., Finlayson, B., & Wang, M. (2015). Sustainability: Transfer project cannot meet China’s water needs. Nature 527(7578): 295.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van Beek, L., Wada, Y., & Bierkens, M. F. (2011). Global monthly water stress: 1. Water balance and water availability. Water Resources Research 47: W07517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bijl, D. L., Biemans, H., Bogaart, P. W., et al. (2018). A global analysis of future water deficit based on different allocation mechanisms. Water Resources Research 54(8): 58035824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cai, X., & Rosegrant, M. W. (2004). Optional water development strategies for the Yellow River Basin: Balancing agricultural and ecological water demands. Water Resources Research 40: W08S04.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Calvin, K., Patel, P., Clarke, L., et al. (2018). GCAM v5.1: Representing the linkages between energy, water, land, climate, and economic systems. Geoscientific Model Development 12(2): 677698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Calvin, K., Wise, M., Kyle, P., et al. (2014). Trade-offs of different land and bioenergy policies on the path to achieving climate targets. Climatic Change 123(3–4): 691704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chaturvedi, V., Hejazi, M., Edmonds, J., et al. (2015). Climate mitigation policy implications for global irrigation water demand. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 20(3): 389407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cheng, H., Hu, Y., & Zhao, J. (2009). Meeting China’s water shortage crisis: Current practices and challenges. Environmental Science & Technology 43(2): 240244.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cong, Z., Yang, D., Gao, B., Yang, H., & Hu, H. (2009). Hydrological trend analysis in the Yellow River basin using a distributed hydrological model. Water Resources Research 45: W00A13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davie, J. C. S., Falloon, P. D., Kahana, R., et al. (2013). Comparing projections of future changes in runoff from hydrological and biome models in ISI-MIP, Earth System Dynamics 4(2): 359374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Döll, P., Fiedler, K., & Zhang, J. (2009). Global-scale analysis of river flow alterations due to water withdrawals and reservoirs. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 13(12): 24132432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Döll, P., Mueller Schmied, H., Schuh, C., Portmann, F. T., & Eicker, A. (2014). Global‐scale assessment of groundwater depletion and related groundwater abstractions: Combining hydrological modeling with information from well observations and GRACE satellites. Water Resources Research 50(7): 56985720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Edmonds, J., Wise, M., Pitcher, H., et al. (1997). An integrated assessment of climate change and the accelerated introduction of advanced energy technologies – An application of MiniCAM 1.0. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 1(4): 311339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Flörke, M., Kynast, E., Bärlund, I., et al. (2013). Domestic and industrial water uses of the past 60 years as a mirror of socio-economic development: A global simulation study. Global Environmental Change 23(1): 144156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Flörke, M., Schneider, C., & McDonald, R. I. (2018). Water competition between cities and agriculture driven by climate change and urban growth. Nature Sustainability 1(1): 5158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fricko, O., Havlik, P., Rogelj, J., et al. (2017). The marker quantification of the shared socioeconomic pathway 2: A middle-of-the-road scenario for the 21st century. Global Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions 42(1): 251267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greve, P., Kahil, T., Mochizuki, J., et al. (2018). Global assessment of water challenges under uncertainty in water scarcity projections. Nature Sustainability 1(9): 486494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haddeland, I., Heinke, J., Biemans, H., et al. (2014). Global water resources affected by human interventions and climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 111(9): 32513256.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hanasaki, N., Fujimori, S., Yamamoto, T., et al. (2013). A global water scarcity assessment under shared socio-economic pathways – Part 2: Water availability and scarcity. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 17(7): 23932413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hanasaki, N., Kanae, S., Oki, T., et al. (2008a). An integrated model for the assessment of global water resources – Part 1: Model description and input meteorological forcing. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 12(4): 10071025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hanasaki, N., Kanae, S., Oki, T., et al. (2008b). An integrated model for the assessment of global water resources – Part 2: Applications and assessments. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 12(4): 10271037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hanasaki, N., Yoshikawa, S., Kakinuma, K., & Kanae, S. (2016). A seawater desalination scheme for global hydrological models. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 20(10): 125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hejazi, M. I., Edmonds, J., Clarke, L., et al. (2014). Integrated assessment of global water scarcity over the 21st century under multiple climate change mitigation policies. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 18(8): 28592883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hempel, S., Frieler, K., Warszawski, L., Schewe, J., & Piontek, F. (2013). A trend-preserving bias correction – The ISI-MIP approach. Earth System Dynamics 4(2): 219236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huang, Z., Hejazi, M., Li, X., et al. (2018). Reconstruction of global gridded monthly sectoral water withdrawals for 1971–2010 and analysis of their spatiotemporal patterns. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 22(4): 21172133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huang, Z., Tang, Q., Lo, M.-H., et al. (2019). The influence of groundwater representation on hydrological simulation and its assessment using satellite-based water storage variation. Hydrological Processes 33(8): 12181230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kim, S. H., Edmonds, J., Lurz, J., Smith, S. J., & Wise, M. (2006). The ObjECTS framework for integrated assessment: Hybrid modeling of transportation. The Energy Journal (Special Issue #2): 6391.Google Scholar
Kummu, M., Guillaume, J. H. A., de Moel, H., et al. (2016). The world’s road to water scarcity: Shortage and stress in the 20th century and pathways towards sustainability. Scientific Reports 6(1): 116.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kustu, M. D., Fan, Y., & Rodell, M. (2011). Possible link between irrigation in the US High Plains and increased summer streamflow in the Midwest. Water Resources Research 47: W03522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Le Page, Y., West, T. O., Link, R., & Patel, P. (2016). Downscaling land use and land cover from the Global Change Assessment Model for coupling with Earth system models. Geoscientific Model Development 9(9): 30553069.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li, L., Shen, H. Y., Dai, S., Xiao, J. S., & Shi, X. H. (2012). Response of runoff to climate change and its future tendency in the source region of Yellow River. Journal of Geographical Sciences 23(3): 431440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Liang, X., Lettenmaier, D. P., Wood, E. F., & Burges, S. J. (1994). A simple hydrologically based model of land surface water and energy fluxes for general circulation models. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 99(D7): 1441514428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Liu, J. G., Liu, Q. Y., & Yang, H. (2016). Assessing water scarcity by simultaneously considering environmental flow requirements, water quantity, and water quality. Ecological Indicators 60(1): 434441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Liu, J. G., Yang, H., Gosling, S. N., et al. (2017). Water scarcity assessments in the past, present, and future. Earth’s Future 5(6): 545559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Liu, X., Tang, Q., Liu, W., et al. (2019). A spatially explicit assessment of growing water stress in China from the past to the future. Earths Future 7(9): 10271043.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ma, T., Sun, S., Fu, G., et al. (2020). Pollution exacerbates China’s water scarcity and its regional inequality. Nature Communications 11(1): 650.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Mekonnen, M. M., & Hoekstra, A. Y. (2016). Four billion people facing severe water scarcity. Science Advances 2(2): e1500323.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Müller Schmied, H., Eisner, S., Franz, D., et al. (2014). Sensitivity of simulated global-scale freshwater fluxes and storages to input data, hydrological model structure, human water use and calibration. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 18(9): 35113538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O’Neill, B. C., Kriegler, E., Riahi, K., et al. (2014). A new scenario framework for climate change research: The concept of shared socioeconomic pathways. Climate Change 122(3): 387400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pastor, A. V., Ludwig, F., Biemans, H., Hoff, H., & Kabat, P. (2014). Accounting for environmental flow requirements in global water assessments. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 18(12): 50415059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Piani, C., Weedon, G. P., Best, M., et al. (2010). Statistical bias correction of global simulated daily precipitation and temperature for the application of hydrological models. Journal of Hydrology 395(3): 199215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Piontek, F., Müller, C., Pugh, T. A., et al. (2014). Multisectoral climate impact hotspots in a warming world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 111(9): 32333238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rodell, M., Velicogna, I., & Famiglietti, J. S. (2009). Satellite-based estimates of groundwater depletion in India. Nature 460(7258): 9991002.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schewe, J., Heinke, J., Gerten, D., et al. (2014). Multimodel assessment of water scarcity under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 111(9): 32453250.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shiklomanov, I. A. (2000). Appraisal and assessment of world water resources. Water International 25(1): 1132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stacke, T., & Hagemann, S. (2012). Development and evaluation of a global dynamical wetlands extent scheme. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 16(8): 29152933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stohlgren, T. J., Chase, T. N., Pielke, R. A., Kittel, T. G., & Baron, J. (1998). Evidence that local land use practices influence regional climate, vegetation, and stream flow patterns in adjacent natural areas. Global Change Biology 4(5): 495504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tang, Q. (2020). Global change hydrology: Terrestrial water cycle and global change. Science China Earth Sciences 63(3): 459462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tang, Q., & Oki, T. (2016). Terrestrial Water Cycle and Climate Change: Natural and Human-Induced Impacts, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Geophysical Monograph Series (Vol. 221). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tang, Q., Oki, T., Kanae, S., & Hu, H. (2008). Hydrological cycles change in the Yellow River basin during the last half of the twentieth century. Journal of Climate 21(8): 17901806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor, R. G., Scanlon, B., Döll, P., et al. (2013). Ground water and climate change. Nature Climate Change 3(4): 322329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Veldkamp, T. I. E., Wada, Y., Aerts, J., et al. (2017). Water scarcity hotspots travel downstream due to human interventions in the 20th and 21st century. Nature communications 8(1): 112.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Veldkamp, T. I. E., Wada, Y., de Moel, H., et al. (2015). Changing mechanism of global water scarcity events: Impacts of socioeconomic changes and inter-annual hydro-climatic variability. Global Environmental Change 32(1): 1829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vernon, C. R., Le Page, Y., Chen, M., et al. (2018). Demeter – A land use and land cover change disaggregation model. Journal of Open Research Software 6(1): 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vörösmarty, C. J., Green, P., Salisbury, J., & Lammers, R. B. (2000). Global water resources: Vulnerability from climate change and population growth. Science 289(5477): 284288.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van Vuuren, D. P., Kriegler, E., O’Neill, B. C., et al. (2014). A new scenario framework for climate change research: Scenario matrix architecture. Climate Change 122(3): 373386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wada, Y., Beek, L. P. H. V., & Bierkens, M. F. P. (2011a). Modelling global water stress of the recent past: On the relative importance of trends in water demand and climate variability. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 8(4): 37853805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wada, Y., Beek, L. P. H. V., Viviroli, D., et al. (2011b). Global monthly water stress: 2. Water demand and severity of water stress. Water Resources Research 47(7): 197203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wada, Y., & Bierkens, M. F. (2014). Sustainability of global water use: Past reconstruction and future projections. Environmental Research Letters 9(10): 104003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wada, Y., Flörke, M., Hanasaki, N., et al. (2016). Modeling global water use for the 21st century: Water Futures and Solutions (WFaS) initiative and its approaches. Geoscientific Model Development 9(1): 175222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wada, Y., Wisser, D., Eisner, S., et al. (2013). Multimodel projections and uncertainties of irrigation water demand under climate change. Geophysical Research Letters 40(17): 46264632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, D., & Hejazi, M. (2011). Quantifying the relative contribution of the climate and direct human impacts on mean annual streamflow in the contiguous United States. Water Resources Research 47: W00J12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, S. J., Yan, M., Yan, Y. X., Shi, C. X., & He, L. (2012). Contributions of climate change and human activities to the changes in runoff increment in different sections of the Yellow River. Quaternary International 282(1): 6677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
West, T. O., Le Page, Y., Huang, M., Wolf, J., & Thomson, A. M. (2014). Downscaling global land cover projections from an integrated assessment model for use in regional analyses: results and evaluation for the US from 2005 to 2095. Environmental Research Letters 9(6): 064004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wisser, D., Frolking, S., Douglas, E. M., et al. (2010). The significance of local water resources captured in small reservoirs for crop production – A global-scale analysis. Journal of Hydrology 384(3): 264275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Xu, J. (2011). Variation in annual runoff of the Wudinghe River as influenced by climate change and human activity. Quaternary International 244(1): 230237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yin, Y., Tang, Q., Liu, X., & Zhang, X. (2017). Water scarcity under various socio-economic pathways and its potential effects on food production in the Yellow River basin. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 21(2): 791804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
YRCC (Yellow River Conservancy Commission) (2013). Comprehensive Planning of Yellow River Basin (2012–2030). Zhengzhou, China: The Yellow River Water Conservancy Press (in Chinese).Google Scholar
Zhao, X., Liu, J., Liu, Q., et al. (2015). Physical and virtual water transfers for regional water stress alleviation in China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 112(4): 10311035.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Zhou, F., Bo, Y., Ciais, P., et al. (2020). Deceleration of China’s human water use and its key drivers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 117(14): 7702.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats