Dynamics and driving mechanisms of asymmetric human water consumption during alternating wet and dry periods

Fuqiang Tian, You Lu, Hongchang Hu, Wolfgang Kinzelbach, Murugesu Sivapalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Increases in human water consumption (HWC) and consequent degradation of the ecological environment are common in arid regions. Understanding the mechanisms behind these processes is important for sustainable development. Analyses of changes in HWC between alternating wet and dry periods are carried out in four arid inland basins in Central Asia and China (Syr Darya, Tarim, Heihe and Shulehe river basins). Based on runoff records, the presence of an asymmetric HWC response is proved (p < 0.01), with an increase in HWC during wet periods and a muted decrease during subsequent dry periods. This behaviour is interpreted by invoking theories from behavioural economics at the individual and community levels. A simple model based on these theories is shown to be able to reproduce the observed dynamics and is used to discuss the importance of strengthening institutional factors for water sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-524
Number of pages18
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Volume64
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 4 2019

Keywords

  • emergent dynamics
  • human water consumption
  • hydrological variability
  • prospect theory
  • socio-hydrology
  • threshold uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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