Climate change is expected to affect crop production worldwide, particularly in rain-fed agricultural regions. It is still unknown how irrigation water needs will change in a warmer planet and where freshwater will be locally available to expand irrigation without depleting freshwater resources. Here, we identify the rain-fed cropping systems that hold the greatest potential for investment in irrigation expansion because water will likely be available to suffice irrigation water demand. Using projections of renewable water availability and irrigation water demand under warming scenarios, we identify target regions where irrigation expansion may sustain crop production under climate change. Our results also show that global rain-fed croplands hold significant potential for sustainable irrigation expansion and that different irrigation strategies have different irrigation expansion potentials. Under a 3 °C warming, we find that a soft-path irrigation expansion with small monthly water storage and deficit irrigation has the potential to expand irrigated land by 70 million hectares and feed 300 million more people globally. We also find that a hard-path irrigation expansion with large annual water storage can sustainably expand irrigation up to 350 million hectares, while producing food for 1.4 billion more people globally. By identifying where irrigation can be expanded under a warmer climate, this work may serve as a starting point for investigating socioeconomic factors of irrigation expansion and may guide future research and resources toward those agricultural communities and water management institutions that will most need to adapt to climate change

Potential for sustainable irrigation expansion in a 3 °C warmer climate

Chiarelli, Davide Danilo;Sangiorgio, Matteo;Rulli, Maria Cristina;D’Odorico, Paolo;
2020-01-01

Abstract

Climate change is expected to affect crop production worldwide, particularly in rain-fed agricultural regions. It is still unknown how irrigation water needs will change in a warmer planet and where freshwater will be locally available to expand irrigation without depleting freshwater resources. Here, we identify the rain-fed cropping systems that hold the greatest potential for investment in irrigation expansion because water will likely be available to suffice irrigation water demand. Using projections of renewable water availability and irrigation water demand under warming scenarios, we identify target regions where irrigation expansion may sustain crop production under climate change. Our results also show that global rain-fed croplands hold significant potential for sustainable irrigation expansion and that different irrigation strategies have different irrigation expansion potentials. Under a 3 °C warming, we find that a soft-path irrigation expansion with small monthly water storage and deficit irrigation has the potential to expand irrigated land by 70 million hectares and feed 300 million more people globally. We also find that a hard-path irrigation expansion with large annual water storage can sustainably expand irrigation up to 350 million hectares, while producing food for 1.4 billion more people globally. By identifying where irrigation can be expanded under a warmer climate, this work may serve as a starting point for investigating socioeconomic factors of irrigation expansion and may guide future research and resources toward those agricultural communities and water management institutions that will most need to adapt to climate change
2020
climate change | water sustainability | sustainable irrigation expansion | water scarcity | agriculture
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1151351
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