Scientists Investigate Utilization Efficiency of Land and Water Resources in Aral Sea Basin, Central Asia

Utilization Efficiency

Aral Sea Basin’s ecological environment has undergone great changes, and the Aral Sea has become an ecological disaster area in the world. The unbalanced distribution and unreasonable utilization of soil and water resources are the important reasons for the deterioration of ecological environment in Central Asia.

A research team led by CHEN Yaning, from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, systematically analyzed the changes in time and space of the development and utilization efficiency of water and soil resources in Aral Sea Basin (ASB) in the past 15 years (2000-2014) by MODIS remote sensing data and the Water Use Efficiency Monitor in Central Asia (WUEMoCA) database.

The results showed that over the past 15 years, the water area in ASB has decreased at a rate of 1048 km2 per year, from a proportion of 2.5% in 2000 to 1.5% in 2014. The Aral Sea in particular has witnessed a significant reduction of 60.28% of its area, dropping from 28,119 km2 in 2000 to 11,169 km2 in 2014.

The annual yield per unit area of wheat was the highest, followed by rice and cotton. Water productivity of wheat in the ASB was the highest, followed by rice and wheat.

Generally, crop and water productivity in irrigated areas along the Syr Darya River is greater than that of the Amu Darya River, and that of the upper irrigation areas is larger than the lower ones. The Fergana Valley and Tashkent areas have the relatively highest land and water resources utilization efficiency.

This study provides a guidance for the construction of the Silk Road towards realizing sustainable and efficient utilization of land and water resources in the affected area.

The research results were published in Sustainable Cities and Society, entitled “Study on the utilization efficiency of land and water resources in the Aral Sea Basin, Central Asia”.