It was a great honor to attend a Symposium on Ecological Restoration and Efficient Utilization of Water Resources in Semi-arid Regions in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, China last week. I learned a lot about the issues of water shortage and contamination in Hebei (West and South-West of Beijing). The talks at the symposium presented the conflict between increasing water demand for agricultural and forestation, while the groundwater availability dropped dramatically over the last decades due to the ongoing land use changes. I presented how stable isotopes of water can help to assess the partitioning between green water (used by plants) and blue water (groundwater recharge), which are the grand challenges in semi-arid environments to ensure agriculture production and groundwater availability.
A field excursion to research centers investigating improved irrigation and fertilization practices showed current developments towards recommendations to the government and farmers in the Hebei province in order to mitigate further stress on the water supply.
I was further invited to visit the group of Prof. Shiqin Wang at the Center of Agricultural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China. We visited one of her field sites in the Taihang Mountain and I enjoyed the discussion with her and her students.
The week-long trip allowed an in-depth insight into the current hydrological issues addressed in Chinese research, but also provided a unique experience of Chinese culture, drinks, and food. Thanks to Prof. Shiqin Wang, who made this possible! (Thanks to Shiqin and Yan-Jun for sharing their photos!)