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A global approach to estimate irrigated areas – a comparison between different data and statistics

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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

Copernicus GmbH

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      Abstract

      <p><strong>Abstract.</strong> Agriculture is the largest global consumer of water. Irrigated areas constitute 40<span class="thinspace"></span>% of the total area used for agricultural production (FAO, 2014a) Information on their spatial distribution is highly relevant for regional water management and food security. Spatial information on irrigation is highly important for policy and decision makers, who are facing the transition towards more efficient sustainable agriculture. However, the mapping of irrigated areas still represents a challenge for land use classifications, and existing global data sets differ strongly in their results. The following study tests an existing irrigation map based on statistics and extends the irrigated area using ancillary data. The approach processes and analyzes multi-temporal normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) SPOT-VGT data and agricultural suitability data &amp;ndash; both at a spatial resolution of 30<span class="thinspace"></span>arcsec &amp;ndash; incrementally in a multiple decision tree. It covers the period from 1999 to 2012. The results globally show a 18<span class="thinspace"></span>% larger irrigated area than existing approaches based on statistical data. The largest differences compared to the official national statistics are found in Asia and particularly in China and India. The additional areas are mainly identified within already known irrigated regions where irrigation is more dense than previously estimated. The validation with global and regional products shows the large divergence of existing data sets with respect to size and distribution of irrigated areas caused by spatial resolution, the considered time period and the input data and assumption made.</p>

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        Continuing population and consumption growth will mean that the global demand for food will increase for at least another 40 years. Growing competition for land, water, and energy, in addition to the overexploitation of fisheries, will affect our ability to produce food, as will the urgent requirement to reduce the impact of the food system on the environment. The effects of climate change are a further threat. But the world can produce more food and can ensure that it is used more efficiently and equitably. A multifaceted and linked global strategy is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable food security, different components of which are explored here.
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          Solutions for a cultivated planet.

          Increasing population and consumption are placing unprecedented demands on agriculture and natural resources. Today, approximately a billion people are chronically malnourished while our agricultural systems are concurrently degrading land, water, biodiversity and climate on a global scale. To meet the world's future food security and sustainability needs, food production must grow substantially while, at the same time, agriculture's environmental footprint must shrink dramatically. Here we analyse solutions to this dilemma, showing that tremendous progress could be made by halting agricultural expansion, closing 'yield gaps' on underperforming lands, increasing cropping efficiency, shifting diets and reducing waste. Together, these strategies could double food production while greatly reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
            Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci.
            Copernicus GmbH
            1607-7938
            2018
            February 09 2018
            : 22
            : 2
            : 1119-1133
            10.5194/hess-22-1119-2018
            © 2018

            https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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