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Water Savings Potentials of Irrigation Systems: Dynamic Global Simulation : Volume 12, Issue 4 (01/04/2015)

By Jägermeyr, J.

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Book Id: WPLBN0004012321
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 52
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Water Savings Potentials of Irrigation Systems: Dynamic Global Simulation : Volume 12, Issue 4 (01/04/2015)  
Author: Jägermeyr, J.
Volume: Vol. 12, Issue 4
Language: English
Subject: Science, Hydrology, Earth
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection, Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Heinke, J., Lucht, W., Gerten, D., Kummu, M., Schaphoff, S., & Jägermeyr, J. (2015). Water Savings Potentials of Irrigation Systems: Dynamic Global Simulation : Volume 12, Issue 4 (01/04/2015). Retrieved from

Description: Research Domain Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Telegraphenberg A62, 14473 Potsdam, Germany. Global agricultural production is heavily sustained by irrigation, but irrigation system efficiencies are often surprisingly low. However, our knowledge of irrigation efficiencies is mostly confined to rough indicative estimates for countries or regions that do not account for spatio-temporal heterogeneity due to climate and other biophysical dependencies. To allow for refined estimates of global agricultural water use, and of water saving and water productivity potentials constrained by biophysical processes and also non-trivial downstream effects, we incorporated a dynamic representation of the three major irrigation systems (surface, sprinkler, and drip) into a process-based bio- and agrosphere model, LPJmL. Based on this enhanced model we provide a gridded worldmap of dynamically retrieved irrigation efficiencies reflecting differences in system types, crop types, climatic and hydrologic conditions, and overall crop management. We find pronounced regional patterns in beneficial irrigation efficiency (a refined irrigation efficiency indicator accounting for crop-productive water consumption only), due to differences in these features, with lowest values (< 30%) in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and highest values (> 60%) in Europe and North America. We arrive at an estimate of global irrigation water withdrawal of 2396 km3 (2004–2009 average); irrigation water consumption is calculated to be 1212 km3, of which 511 km3 are non-beneficially consumed, i.e. lost through evaporation, interception, and conveyance. Replacing surface systems by sprinkler or drip systems could, on average across the world's river basins, reduce the non-beneficial consumption at river basin level by 54 and 76%, respectively, while maintaining the current level of crop yields. Accordingly, crop water productivity would increase by 9 and 15%, respectively, and by much more in specific regions such as in the Indus basin. This study significantly advances the global quantification of irrigation systems while providing a framework for assessing potential future transitions in these systems. Here presented opportunities associated with irrigation improvements are significant and suggest that they should be considered an important means on the way to sustainable food security.

Water savings potentials of irrigation systems: dynamic global simulation

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