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Changes in agricultural cropland areas between a water-surplus year and a water-deficit year impacting food security, determined using MODIS 250 m time-series data and spectral matching techniques, in the Krishna River basin (India)

Gumma, Murali Krishna, Thenkabail, Prasad S., Muralikrishna, I. V., Velpuri, Manohar N., Gangadhararao, Parthasarathi T., Dheeravath, Venkateswarlu, Biradar, Chandrasekhar M., Acharya Nalan, Sreedhar, Gaur, Anju
International journal of remote sensing 2011 v.32 no.12 pp. 3495-3520
agricultural land, climate, double cropping, food security, groundwater, image analysis, irrigated farming, irrigation, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, spectral analysis, watersheds, India
The objective of this study was to investigate the changes in cropland areas as a result of water availability using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 250 m time-series data and spectral matching techniques (SMTs). The study was conducted in the Krishna River basin in India, a very large river basin with an area of 265 752 km² (26 575 200 ha), comparing a water-surplus year (2000–2001) and a water-deficit year (2002–2003). The MODIS 250 m time-series data and SMTs were found ideal for agricultural cropland change detection over large areas and provided fuzzy classification accuracies of 61–100% for various land‐use classes and 61–81% for the rain-fed and irrigated classes. The most mixing change occurred between rain-fed cropland areas and informally irrigated (e.g. groundwater and small reservoir) areas. Hence separation of these two classes was the most difficult. The MODIS 250 m-derived irrigated cropland areas for the districts were highly correlated with the Indian Bureau of Statistics data, with R²-values between 0.82 and 0.86.The change in the net area irrigated was modest, with an irrigated area of 8 669 881 ha during the water-surplus year, as compared with 7 718 900 ha during the water-deficit year. However, this is quite misleading as most of the major changes occurred in cropping intensity, such as changing from higher intensity to lower intensity (e.g. from double crop to single crop). The changes in cropping intensity of the agricultural cropland areas that took place in the water-deficit year (2002–2003) when compared with the water-surplus year (2000–2001) in the Krishna basin were: (a) 1 078 564 ha changed from double crop to single crop, (b) 1 461 177 ha changed from continuous crop to single crop, (c) 704 172 ha changed from irrigated single crop to fallow and (d) 1 314 522 ha changed from minor irrigation (e.g. tanks, small reservoirs) to rain-fed. These are highly significant changes that will have strong impact on food security. Such changes may be expected all over the world in a changing climate.