The 2009 Outstanding Young Scientist Award is awarded to Junguo Liu for his impressive contributions in water research management.
Only 1 year after he completed his Ph.D in 2007, Junguo Liu has already published 11 peer-reviewed papers, including 2 in Nature. Junguo Liu focuses his research in water and environmental resources management. He analyzed the trend of virtual water trade in China, and found that, in spite of the strict agricultural policy of food self-sufficiency, the annual virtual-water import through food trade increased sharply from 30 billion cubic metres in the 1990s to an average of 71 billion cubic metres between 2002 and 2004. Then, he reviewed a number of published scientific papers, and concluded that importing virtual water into the North China Plain may well be more efficient than transferring “real” water through the South-to-North Water Transfer Project, which is a controversial initiative now under construction to divert water from the Yangtze River to northern China. The results lead to a paper that has been published in Nature in 2008.
Junguo Liu quantified how food consumption patterns influence water requirement in China. The findings showed that per capita water requirement for food has increased by a factor of 3.4 mainly due to the increase of the consumption of animal products in recent decades. He also found the per capita water requirement for food is still very low in China compared to many developed countries. If China approaches the American level of food consumption, the water requirement will be more than double the present level. Such a change in food consumption will have a much greater impact on water requirements than population growth. These results shaped another paper, which has been accepted for publication in Nature in 2008. Junguo Liu is also interested in the studies on crop-water relation on large scales. He has developed a GIS-based Environmental Policy Integrated Climate model to simulate crop yield and crop water use on global and national scales with high spatial resolutions. This model is now being used by a number of research institutes including the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Rice University in USA, and Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Besides his research papers, he is very active in many science-related issues. He is currently an editor of the journal “Hydrology and Earth System Sciences”. He serves as a committee member of the World Academy of Young Scientists. He has been involved in several research projects including those supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sixth European Community Framework Programme, and the Swiss National Science Foundation.