Irrigation Effects on Hydro-Climatic Change: Basin-Wise Water Balance-Constrained Quantification and Cross-Regional Comparison
Hydro-climatic changes driven by human land and water use, including water use for irrigation, may be difficult to distinguish from the effects of global, natural and anthropogenic climate change. This paper quantifies and compares the hydro-climatic change effects of irrigation using a data-driven, basin-wise quantification approach in two different irrigated world regions: the Aral Sea drainage basin in Central Asia and the Indian Mahanadi River Basin draining into the Bay of Bengal. Results show that irrigation-driven changes in evapotranspiration and latent heat fluxes and associated temperature changes at the land surface may be greater in regions with small relative irrigation impacts on water availability in the landscape (here represented by the Mahanadi River Basin) than in regions with severe such impacts (here represented by the Aral region). Different perspectives on the continental part of Earth’s hydrological cycle may thus imply different importance assessments of various drivers and impacts of hydro-climatic change. Regardless of perspective, however, actual basin-wise water balance constraints should be accounted to realistically understand and accurately quantify continental water change.
KeywordsHydro-climatic change Irrigation Evapotranspiration Surface temperature Hydrological cycle Hydrological catchment Aral Sea India
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