Terrawatch: what the world can learn from China’s sinking city

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Fissures and sinkholes are the norm successful China’s Shanxi province. Intensive agriculture combined with large ember accumulation has enactment immense unit connected h2o resources and sucked the world dry, leaving the metropolis of Taiyuan, with a colonisation of 5 million, and the surrounding country suffering immoderate of the highest subsidence rates successful the world. Pipelines, roads, bridges and railways request changeless repairs, and gaping cracks successful buildings person resulted successful full communities having to beryllium rehoused.

Since 2003, the Chinese authorities has been trying to lick this occupation by diverting surplus h2o from the Yellow River. Now outer measurements, published successful Remote Sensing of Environment, uncover that this mammoth feat of engineering – taking 1.2bn cubic metres of h2o each twelvemonth – has partially solved the problem, with diverted h2o rehydrating underground pores and reversing the sinking trend.

But it hasn’t worked everywhere: the pore spaces successful clay-rich areas cannot beryllium afloat reopened. And adjacent wherever it has worked, the bounce-back is limited.

The biggest successes person been successful regions wherever h2o diversion has been combined with h2o conservation, histrion planting and modernising irrigation techniques. Other water-stressed and subsidence-prone parts of the world, including the Iranian cardinal plateau, the US precocious plains and north-west India volition bash good to larn from the Chinese experience.