Quantifying Water Scarcity in Northern China Within the Context of Climatic and Societal Changes and South-to-North Water Diversion

Yuanyuan Yin, Lei Wang, Zhongjing Wang, Qiuhong Tang, Shilong Piao, Deliang Chen, Jun Xia, Tobias Conradt, Junguo Liu, Yoshihide Wada, Ximing Cai, Zhenghui Xie, Qingyun Duan, Xiuping Li, Jing Zhou, Jianyun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the increasing pressure from population growth and economic development, northern China (NC) faces a grand challenge of water scarcity, which can be further exacerbated by climatic and societal changes. The South-to-North Water Diversion (SNWD) project is designed to mitigate the water scarcity in NC. However, few studies have quantified the impact of the SNWD on water scarcity within the context of climatic and societal changes and its potential effects on economic and agricultural food in the region. We used water supply stress index (WaSSI) to quantify water scarcity within the context of environmental change in NC and developed a method to estimate the economic and agricultural impacts of the SNWD. Focuses were put on alleviating the water supply shortage and economic and agricultural benefits for the water-receiving NC. We find that societal changes, especially economic growth, are the major contributors to water scarcity in NC during 2009–2099. To completely mitigate the water scarcity of NC, at least an additional water supply of 13 billion m3/year (comparable to the annual diversion water by SNWD Central Route) will be necessary. Although SNWD alone cannot provide the full solution to NC's water shortage in next few decades, it can significantly alleviate the water supply stress in NC (particularly Beijing), considerably increasing the agricultural production (more than 115 Tcal/year) and bringing economic benefits (more than 51 billion RMB/year) through supplying industrial and domestic water use. Additionally, the transfer project could have impacts on the ecological environment in the exporting regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020EF001492
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying Water Scarcity in Northern China Within the Context of Climatic and Societal Changes and South-to-North Water Diversion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this