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Variation in agricultural water demand and its attributions in the arid Tarim River Basin

  • G. Fang (a1) (a2), Y. Chen (a1) and Z. Li (a1)

Agricultural water use accounts for more than 95% of the total water consumption in the extreme arid region of the Tarim River Basin. Understanding the variation of agricultural water demand (AWD) and its attributions is therefore vital for irrigation management and water resource allocation affecting the economy and natural ecosystems in this high water-deficit region. Here spatial–temporal variations of AWD based on weighted crop water requirement (ETc) were estimated using the Penman–Monteith equation and the crop coefficient approach. Then the contributions of meteorological factors and planting structure (i.e. proportions of crop acreages) to AWD variations were quantified based on traditional methods and numerical experiment (i.e. a series calculation of AWD based on different input data). Results indicated that AWD decreased during 1960–1988 at a rate of 2.76 mm/year and then started to increase at a high rate of 9.47 mm/year during 1989–2015. For the first period (1960–1988), wind speed (uz), maximum humidity (RHmax) and sunshine duration (n) were the most important factors leading to decreased AWD, while for the second period the evolution of planting structure was the most significant factor resulting in the rapid increase of AWD, followed by the minimum temperature (Tmin), uz and RHmax. The evolution of planting structure alone would lead to an increase rate for AWD of 7.1 mm/year while the climatic factor would result in an increase rate of 1.9 mm/year during 1989–2015.

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Author for correspondence: Y. Chen, E-mail:
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