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1
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
Contents
Page
Contents----------------------------------------------------------------------------------1
Causes and situation of drying up at Huang He-------------------------------------2
Climatic information of Huang He----------------------------------------------------3
Discharge of Huang He-----------------------------------------------------------------5
Population information of the drainage area of Huang He-------------------------7
Human activities in the drainage area of Huang He---------------------------------8
References---------------------------------------------------------------------------------10
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
2
Hello! I am an officer of the Ministry of Water Resources from the Mainland China. Today,
I would like to tell you the problems of drying up at Huang He. This will help you
understand more about the problems and to protect Huang He.
As you know, Huang He is the second longest river in China and an important water
resource for northwestern and northern China. The mean annual river discharge is 58 billion
cubic meters accounting for only 2% of the country’s total river discharge. It only equals to
1/20 of the annual discharge of Chang Jiang. From the perspective of water demand, the
water resource is scarce in Huang He region.
The northwestern and northern China have very rich land and mineral resources, and hence
these regions are major production centers of energy, food, cotton and oil. These regions
have important strategic values in terms of economy. This is especially the case in the
Huang-Huai-Hai Plain (黃、淮、海平原) and Jiaodong Peninsula (膠東半島) because there
are high population density, agricultural rate and level of economic development. However,
water scarcity has become a constraint for economic development and has led to the
deterioration of the ecological environment.
Due to rapid economic, industrial and agricultural development, water consumption is very
great in the northwestern region. Agricultural use comprises more than 90% of total water
use in the drainage area of Huang He. With the farmers being ignorant of water saving,
there is serious water wastage with the efficiency of irrigation water use as low as 30%. In
addition, increasing temperature and reducing precipitation in the drainage area of Huang
He have aggravated the problem of drying up in the lower course.
The average length of drying up at Huang He was 242 km in the 1970s, 256 km in the
1980s and 392 km in the 1990s. Before the 1990s, drying up was usually found in the
estuarine areas. Between 1992 and 1994, the problem had extended to the surrounding of
Jinan City (濟南市) of Shandong Province; in 1995, it reached Jiahetan (夾河灘) of Henan
province with a length of about 683 km; in 1997, the problem even spread to Kaifeng (開
封) of Henan province and above, with a length of about 704 km and occupied more than
90% of the lower course of Huang He. It is obvious that the problem of drying up cannot be
neglected anymore.
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
3
A majority of the drainage area of Huang He belongs
to arid and semi-arid climates with low precipitation and
water deficit. Precipitation is mainly found between June
and September and thus the majority of runoff concentrates in between
July and October. The runoff of the mainstream and larger tributaries in the
flood period constitutes 60% of the annual runoff total. Precipitation is low between
March and June and the runoff in that period only occupies 10-20% of the year’s total.
The average precipitation in the drainage area of Huang He is 476mm. In recent years,
the precipitation in dry years has dropped by about 10-20%.
River source region:
Since the 1950s, the source area of Huang He has often experienced a negative water balance, with
only water surplus in some wet years. With global warming, the average annual temperature of the
source area also increased, e.g. Maduo Xian (瑪多縣) experienced about 0.08°C increase in
every decade. Besides, precipitation near Tuotuo He (沱沱河) has prominently reduced
since 1985. These make the ecological environment of the source area worsen and the
surface areas of the lakes smaller. Originally, there are 4077 lakes in Maduo Xian but
recent statistics show that about 2000 small lakes have dried up. The decrease of
precipitation and the storage capacity of lakes in the source area have severely
affected the water supply of Huang He.
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
4
Middle and lower course regions:
Severe drought is also found in the middle and lower
courses of Huang He. Taking Henan as an example, the
mean precipitation in the province is only 20.3mm since spring
2000, which accounts for only 10.43% of the average precipitation in
similar periods of other years. From January to mid-August in 2001,
precipitation in the middle and lower courses of Huang He had dropped by
90% when compared to those in normal years. The precipitation in the lower
course is continually decreasing but the domestic, industrial and agricultural uses of
water are increasing. All these factors have caused the deficiency in river discharge of
Huang He.
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
5
Being the second longest river in China, Huang He is an important water resource for
the northwestern and Huabei regions. The mean annual discharge is 58 billion cubic
meters, with 20.28 billion cubic meters above Longyangxia (龍羊峽), 31.26 billion
cubic meters above Hekou Zhen (河口鎮) and 55.92 billion cubic meters above
Huayuankou (花園口). The mean annual river discharge comprises only 2% of the
country’s total discharge, and equals only 1/20 of the annual discharge of Chang Jiang.
The discharge of Huang He is ranked fourth out of the seven major rivers in China
(lower than Chang Jiang, Zhu Jiang and Songhua Jiang).
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
6
The amount of water flowing into the sea from
Huang He is gradually decreasing. From 1990 to 1994, the annual
average amount of water flowing into the sea was only 18.4 billion
cubic meters, equals to 64% of the 28.6 billion cubic meters in the 1980s,
59% of the 37.1 billion cubic meters in the 1970s and 47% of the 49.2 billion
cubic meters in the 1960s. Some experts predicted that with 5 years as a unit, the
lower course of Huang He would dry up annually starting from 2000 and dry out
completely in 2020. Huang He will become an inland river.
From January to June in 2001, almost all gauging stations from the upper to lower courses
faced the problem of decreasing discharge. The discharges of major gauging stations in the
upper and middle courses of Huang He were 30-90% less than that under normal situation. July
was the flood season of Huang He but the discharge was still decreasing. Gauging stations in
the middle course, such as Wubu (吳堡), Longmen (龍門) and Tong Guan (潼關), had the
lowest discharge since there was record.
Compared to February of the previous years, the recharge of the drainage area of Huang He
reduced 48% in February 2003. Water storage of major reservoirs in the upper course reduced by 2
billion cubic meters when compared to 2002. It was expected that discharge from major sections of
Huang He would be only 8.2 billion cubic meters from January to July, a 5.5 billion cubic meters
less than that in the driest year of 1997.
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
7
According to the statistics of the1990 population census:
97.81 million people were settled in the drainage area of Huang He,
constituting 8.6% of the total population in the country. Total population of
the eight provinces in the drainage area of Huang He (except Sichuan
Province) constituted 25.1% of the nation’s population. Besides, population
in Shandong and Henan provinces occupied 59.7% of the population in the
drainage area. Population in the eastern region (lower course) was dense
while that in the western region (upper course) was sparse. The population
distribution was very uneven.
Due to a large population base and most of them were minority regions,
population policy was more flexible in western provinces with less
population. Higher birth rate was experienced in these areas. Population
growth rate exceeded 0.9% of the country in 1982-1991.
Drainage area of Huang He was still an undeveloped region in China,
people here had low education level and very high illiteracy rate. Only 2.3%
of the employed population was university graduates. This figure was 0.1%
lower than the national average. The population with illiteracy or
semi-illiteracy was 37.3% in the area, which was 5.6% higher than the
national mean. The illiteracy or semi-literacy rate of the employed
population in Qinghai, Gansu and Ningxia provinces was higher than 50%.
According to the statistics in 1996, there were 126 poor counties in the
drainage area of Huang He, accounting for 21.3% of the total poor counties
in the country.
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
Dear student,
Water consumption for agricultural, industrial and
domestic uses in the drainage area of Huang He was only
12.2 billion cubic meters in the 1950s. However, it
increased to 36 billion cubic meters in the 1990s. The
irrigation area in the drainage area of Huang He was only
12 million acres in the 1950s and it increased to 110
million acres recently. Such water usage has exceeded the
carrying capacity of the water resources. Do you know
what human activities can be found in the upper, middle
and lower courses respectively?
8
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
9
I know the situation of the upper and middle courses of Huang He. The
upper course of Huang He is mainly plateau area, where grazing is the main
human activity. Overgrazing will destroy the vegetation cover, causing soil
erosion and degradation. Water retention capacity is reduced with less
groundwater recharge. The lowering of water table has adversely affected the
hydrological environment of the source region. The area of
over-desertification is increased by 5.33% annually.
The middle course region has a rich reserve in natural resources. After 1949,
large steel production centers had been set up at Baotou (包頭) and Taiyuan
(太原). Some medium-scale and small-scale steel plants were also set up in
Xi’an (西安), Lanzhou (蘭州) and Huhhot (呼和浩特). Since the plants are
near to the production of steel and coal, transport cost can be saved
tremendously. However, large amount of water is required for cooling and
cleaning in the mining industry, water consumption is very great in these
areas.
Fenwei Pendi (汾渭盆地) in the middle course is an important center of
agricultural production in China. The production of wheat, cotton, oil and
tobacco has an important role in the country. However, water charge is low.
This has caused a low efficiency of water use among farmers and they have a
poor concept of water conservation.
Great! You are right. Now let me tell you the human activities in the
lower course region.
The lower course of Huang He is our agricultural, industrial and
economic centre. Water consumption is greatly increased due to rapid
industrial and economic development. This causes water shortage in the
region. The rapidly developing energy production centers (Zhongyuan
oilfield 中原油田, Shengli oilfield 勝利油田 and Huaibei oilfield 淮
北油田) and the agricultural centres in Huang-Huai-Hai Plain (黃、淮、
海平原) require a large amount of industrial and agricultural water.
Insufficient amount of water and drying up of Huang He will affect
human activities in the lower course seriously. For instance, annual
water consumption in Shandong is 8-9 billion cubic meters, exceeding
the given quota of 7 billion cubic meters. Such excessive drawing of
water has caused the drying up problem in the estuarine areas.
Information Folder (3)—The drying up problem of Huang He
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《黃河水資源》,二零零三年七月十八日
http://nerc1.ckjhs.tyc.edu.tw/10121226.htm
《今日黃河》,二零零三年七月十八日
http://nerc1.ckjhs.tyc.edu.tw/10121221.htm
《黃河水情》,二零零三年七月十八日月
http://nerc1.ckjhs.tyc.edu.tw/10121215.htm
《黃河流域基本情況簡介》,二零零三年七月十八日
http://nerc1.ckjhs.tyc.edu.tw/10121222.htm
《黃河斷流問題》,二零零三年七月十八日
http://huazhen.net/HuaShan/BBS/water/b5current/40.shtml
《黃河將會消失、黃河文明將會走向衰落》,二零零三年七月十八日
http://www.chinacomments.net/indx29b5.htm
《黃河枯年不斷流》,二零零三年七月十八日
http://www.people.com.cn/BIG5/huanbao/55/20011227/636085.html
《我們缺水,但我們更缺科學:2000 年大旱是天災還是人禍?》,二零零三
年七月十八日 http://www.tdctrade.com/report/top/top_000604.htm
《黃河特大水荒》,二零零三年七月十八日
http://www1.nanfangdaily.com.cn/b5/www.nanfangdaily.com.cn/ds/20030416/fmxw/
200304160204.asp
《黃河源區生態環境惡化的現狀及其因初探》,二零零三年七月十八日
http://www.ambiente.gov.mo/tchinese/07/lotus15/11506.asp
《黃河面臨 50 年最嚴重缺水 別讓母親河流乾淚》,二零零三年四月二十八
日 http://www.unn.com.cn/BIG5/channel2200/2230/200303/03/246760.html
《黃河出現 50 年罕見水枯 劉家峽蓄水量減少 27 億立方米》
,二零零三年四
月二十八日
http://www.unn.com.cn/BIG5/channel22/37/180/200302/21/245244.html
《地質調查顯示 三大原因加劇黃河斷流》,二零零三年四月二十八日
http://www.unn.com.cn/BIG5/channel2/3/30/3514/3517/200303/03/246984.html
14. 「黃河以北大旱」,《東方日報》,二零零零年六月二十五日。
Current situation of Huang He:
You may browse the following website for information about the current situation of
Huang He:
“山東黃河”
http://www.sdhh.gov.cn/news/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=10564