Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2003, Vol. 58 ›› Issue (6): 861-869.doi: 10.11821/xb200306009

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Virtual Water Consumption Calculation and Analysis of Gansu Province in 2000

XU Zhongmin1,2, LONG Aihua1, ZHANG Zhiqiang3   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, CAREERI, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China;
    2. Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, Tottori 680, Japan;
    3. Scientific Information Center for Resources and Environment, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2003-05-11 Revised:2003-09-10 Online:2003-11-25 Published:2003-11-25
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40235053; No.40201019


In this paper, we firstly introduce the concept of virtual water, discuss its role in managing water resources and its social, economic, and political implications. Virtual water strategy means countries or regions whose water is scarce achieve their water security and food security by importing water-intensive products from those whose water is abundant, which expands the solution of water resource scarcity to the political-economic system. The particular linkage of population, food, and trade has been the masterstroke of virtual water strategy research. Secondly, we present the methodology to assess the virtual water content in crop and livestock products, and take Gansu as a case to analyse the virtual water content in product and circulating field. Owing to lack of rigorous statistical data of trade among provinces, the above results are then combined with the index of consumption amount of product to get a picture of virtual water circulation in social-economic system of the province. The calculation results show that the total product-related and consumption-related virtual water amount is estimated to be 222.02×108 m3 and 183.75×108 m3 respectively. Thirdly, we discuss the political implications and potential applicability of virtual water associated with water security, economic benefit and consumption structure in Gansu, and examine the advantage and disadvantage of virtual water strategy. The results show that virtual water trade is an instrument to achieve water security and efficient water use. A linkage between consumption patterns and the impacts on water is made.

Key words: virtual water, virtual water trade, virtual water strategy, Gansu