The Response of Water-Land Environment to Human Activities in Arid Minqin Oasis, Northwest China
This article outlines the human activities and its impact on water-land environment in the Minqin oasis of northwest China which is an area of typical arid features. During the last century, human activities have caused a series of detrimental water-land environment responses. Analyses show that runoff into the Minqin oasis has been reduced, with the decreasing trend predominantly occurring during the periods of July to September and December to February, perpetrated by construction of reservoirs and diversion of runoff for irrigation in the upper and middle reaches of the Shiyang River basin. In addition, excessive quantities of groundwater in the Minqin oasis have been exploited, producing serious groundwater level declines. Groundwater quality has also degenerated, with total dissolved solids (TDS) concentrations in the northern portion of the oasis reaching 5.76 g l?1. The continual lowering of the groundwater surface and increased groundwater quality degradation has produced negative changes in the ecological environment. The area of salinized soil has doubled from the 1950s to the present value of 4000 ha, with vegetation cover in the Minqin oasis seriously degenerated, marred by land desertification and frequent dust storms. Strategies for improving the water-land environment of the oasis are proposed in this article, with guidelines for reconstruction of sustainable water-land management in Minqin oasis.