Scientists discuss 'air corridor' of south to north water diversion

Updated: 2016-09-12 11:11

By Guo Kai(

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Scientists discuss 'air corridor' of south to north water diversion

The photo taken on Aug 17, 2016, shows a section of the eastern branch of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project in Weishan, East China's Shandong province. [Photo/IC]  

Scientists are brainstorming how to utilize the water vapor in the air to fulfill the goal of solving water shortage in the country's northern areas, Xinhua News Agency reported.

From Sept 9 to 11, scientists took part in a meeting to discuss the "Tianhe Project", or Sky River Project, in Xining, capital of Northwest China's Qinghai province.

The project will carry out water diversion in regions in the air, forming an "air corridor" of south-to-north water diversion, said Wang Guangqian, president of Qinghai University and an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

According to observations, there is a stable and orderly passage of water vapor transportation between the atmospheric boundary layer and the troposphere, which could be called "Tianhe", Wang said.

Tianhe Project is the trans-regional water diversion mode on utilizing the air passage to fulfill water diversion in regions, he said.

Scientists will analyze the water vapor distribution and transportation in the air, and will carry out manual intervention measures to fulfill the redistribution of atmospheric and surface water resources.

"We will first monitor the water vapor amount and the 'migration' routes in the air to master the rules of water vapor's 'migration', and will take manual intervention measures in some conditional regions to solve the surface water shortage in the north," Wang said.

In the past three decades, the runoff of main rivers in the country's northern part has been declining, according to authoritative reports based on observations, and by 2025, the northern part will possibly face severe water shortage.

The eastern and central branches of the strategic South-to-North Water Diversion Project have been constructed and, to a certain extent, have alleviated the water shortage in the northern areas.

However, the western part of the project is still under discussion, because the branch will go though areas of higher altitude, complex topography and fragile ecological environment.

The concept of the air corridor of south-to-north water diversion will maximize the ecological effects of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, boosting the economic and social development to the whole country, especially in the northern areas, said Bao Weimin, a space expert from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Tianhe Project is expected to bring 2.5 billion cubic meters of precipitation in Sanjiangyuan area, 200 million in Qilian Mountains area and 120 million in Qaidam area every year between 2016 and 2020, according to a plan.

The project aims to complete 5 billion cubic meters of trans-regional water diversion every year, an amount equal to 350 West Lake's water storage, in the medium- and long-term goal.