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Climate Change and Adaptation for Water Resources in Yellow River Basin, China

IHP VII Technical Document in Hydrology UNESCO Office in Beijing, 2010;
Published by UNESCO Office Beijing

Abstract: Climate change is having profound impacts on water resources around the world, as evidenced by changes in snowpack, sea level, and river flows. These changes are expected to continue in the future, in forms of weather pattern changes, and increased risks of water-related disasters such as floods and droughts. As "cradle of the Chinese civilization", the Yellow River is faced with tightened challenges of climate change. It is estimated that from 1956 to 2000, runoff in the Yellow River basin has been reduced by almost 8%. Similar reduction has been observed as well in regards to precipitation. Reductions in both runoff and precipitation have decreased the amount of water supply in the Yellow River basin. In contrast, water demands have been increasing derived from industrial and agricultural development, along with rapid urbanization process in the basin area.
To cope with the challenges and balance water supply and demands in context of climate change, UNESCO, in partnership with the Yellow River Conservancy Commission (YRCC), management authority of the Yellow River, joined the Climate Change Partnership Framework (CCPF) project. UNESCO's component of CCPF is aimed to improve integrated water resources management at the basin scale. In this means, it is expected the UNESCO-CCPF would contribute to enhanced adaptation of water resources to climate change in the Yellow River as the mother river of China. This proceeding is an integral part of deliveries of UNESCO-CCPF. It summarizes latest research on climate change and water resources in the Yellow River basin. The first two articles of these proceedings are drafted by Mr. LI Guo Ying, Commissioner of YRCC. The thoughts on river ethics, adaptation to climate change reflected through these two articles demonstrate high-level commitment to build a "healthy" Yellow River as a way to tackle climate change challenges.