Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (5): 1257-1273.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202105016

• Resources Use and Environmental Evolution • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Analysis and prediction of socio-economic water use in the Aral Sea Basin

LIU Shuang1,2(), BAI Jie1, LUO Geping1,2(), LYU Nana3, WU Miao4   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    4. Document and Information Center of Xinjiang Branch of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
  • Received:2019-06-05 Revised:2020-11-16 Online:2021-05-25 Published:2021-07-25
  • Contact: LUO Geping;
  • Supported by:
    Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA20060302);National Natural Science Foundation of China(U1803243)


Since 1960, water and land resource development in the Aral Sea Basin has led to a surge in socio-economic water consumption and resulted in about 50% shrinkage of the Aral Sea until 1990, which is also known as the Aral Sea Crisis. However, the spatial and temporal changes in socio-economic water consumption are still unclear. Based on the multi-source acquisition of Aral Sea Basin national/state water resource and socio-economic data during 1960-2016, this paper used the system dynamics model to simulate and analyze the characteristics of the socio-economic and water use changes in the Aral Sea Basin and forecasted the socio-economic water use in 2016-2030 under multi-scenarios. The population and GDP in the Aral Sea Basin increased rapidly, by 267% and 1100% respectively, during the study period. The socio-economic water consumption increased from 41 km3 in 1960 to 91 km3 in 2016. The socio-economic water consumption of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan increased rapidly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and decreased afterwards. The socio-economic water consumption in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan continued to grow in the past 60 years. The benefits of industrial and agricultural water use in the basin increased significantly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but remained at a relatively low level. The future forecasts show that if the existing socio-economic water use efficiency and cropland continue to increase (S1), the socio-economic water consumption in the Aral Sea Basin will reach 96.2 km3 by 2030. Under the S10 scenario that the drip irrigation penetration rate reaches 70% and the cropland remains unchanged, the socio-economic water consumption will drop to 68.1 km 3, which can effectively alleviate the crisis in the study area.

Key words: Aral Sea Basin, water resources, socio-economic water, system dynamics