School of Biological and Chemical Engineering, Nan Yang Institute of Technology, Nan Yang, He Nan, China; Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Phosphorus is vital for living creatures and will run out in the next few hundred years. The imbalanced phosphate rock distribution and inefficient consumption make phosphorus management of great importance. As China has an undeniable influence on global phosphorus production and consumption, understanding its changing historical patterns is critical for phosphorus resource management and water quality improvement. However, most existing research focus on anthropogenic phosphorus flows in the agricultural sector for a specific year, making the evaluation of such changes difficult. Therefore, substance flow analysis and principal component analysis for phosphorus flows between 1980 and 2015 were performed to understand phosphorus consumption structure change and the build-up of legacy phosphorus in China. The results show that although China's phosphorus utilization efficiency has decreased over time, it is still higher than in most other countries. The research also demonstrates the effectiveness of combining multiyear substance flow analysis and principal component analysis to improve the transparency of identifying underlying consumption structure change during resource management.