Food-Energy-Water Analysis at Spatial Scales for Districts in the Yangtze River Basin (China)

Zhuomin Wang, Thuy Nguyen, Paul Westerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Understanding the nexus between food, energy, and water (FEW) systems is emerging as a critical area of study since federal research agencies in North America and Europe began highlighting the needs related to data collection/management, systems optimization, and opportunities for new technologies. Little information regarding FEW systems exists across Asia, including within the Yangtze River basin, despite having 1/15th of the world's population living within the basin and generating as much as 40% of the Chinese gross domestic product. This research provides a case study of FEW systems with analysis in the Yangtze River basin, showing the spatial and temporal variations in water availability/use, food production, and energy production. At a district-level scale in China, we integrated key Chinese data sets from multiple industrial, commercial, and agricultural sectors together with key land use and hydrologic information to evaluate the FEW parameters normalized to the land area of each district rather than the commonly used approach where FEW consumptive parameters are normalized to population (i.e., per capita). The results illustrated the types of data sets currently available within China to conduct FEW system analyses and identified districts that are net producers or dependents regarding food, energy, or water. The northeastern portion of the Yangtze River basin have several districts that are net negative relative to the amount of water that falls within the district boundaries versus all water uses plus evaporation, with the most stressed districts lacking as much as 0.5-1 m annually of equivalent rainfall per unit land area. The geospatial analysis concludes that policies to manage the FEW system cannot be considered for a single district alone, nor the Yangtze River watershed in its entirety, but instead needs to consider the interdependencies among districts and consider encouraging growth (agriculture, industry, or population) within more water-abundant regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)789-797
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Engineering Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Yangtze River basin
  • climate
  • food-energy-water system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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