Spatio-temporal changes and their relationship in water resources and agricultural disasters across China

Changes in monthly streamflow and the potential influences and feedbacks of agricultural activities are investigated. Significant decreases in streamflow are observed in northern China, including the Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe river basins, while in southern China streamflow increases significantly in the Yangtze, Pearl and South river basins. This spatial pattern of changes in streamflow indicates that the imbalance in water resources between northern (dry) and southern (wet) China has increased during past decades. On the one hand, available water resources are a controlling factor determining the expansion of irrigated land and the structure of crop plantation (i.e. rice, wheat, corn or bean); on the other hand, crop planting structure and effective irrigated areas are important determinants of changes in streamflow. The increasing effective irrigation and rice planting areas in northern China may increase water withdrawal from rivers, causing subsequent decreases in streamflow, while in southeastern China, decreasing effective irrigation areas enhance the increases in streamflow.